Citing news of a $13.7 million lawsuit from a Norfolk bank, David Gammino says he’s decided not to challenge Marty Jewell for the 5th district City Council seat. The suit pertains to work allegedly performed by Gammino’s development firm, City & Guilds, in concert with Justin French’s infamous multimillion-dollar fraud over historic tax credits. In a chance run-in in Carytown, Gammino noted that it would be impossible to keep focused on his campaign platform with the lawsuit hanging out there. This leaves Lee Shewmake the lone challenger to Jewell’s seat.
Update: For those looking for a direct quote, I asked David if he’d gotten his signatures in to make his campaign official and he responded, “I’m not doin’ it.” Then he clued me into the lawsuit and the already mounting media coverage (sorry, juggling kids puts this blog a little behind sometimes) which has forced his decision not to run for office. This all started with my 1.5 year old throwing his Can Can croissant out of the stroller and Gammino crossing the street to greet me and point out that he saw me pick the pastry up off the sidewalk and eat it. I claimed the 5-second rule, but guilty as charged.
UPDATE #2: Rewinding a bit further might help put this news in perspective. When David Gammino responded to our interview questions back in February, he went into considerable detail about his relationship with Justin French. See his response here:
Finally, the facts regarding Justin French are as follows: He was my business partner while he was perpetrating a massive fraud unbeknownst to me. The list of companies and individuals whom Justin defrauded is long and illustrious, and none have suffered similar character assassination. City & Guilds was literally brought to its knees due to the financial losses and the impact of my association with French. Neither I, nor City & Guilds were ever a target of this investigation. In fact, I worked with the US Attorney, the FBI and the IRS to document this fraud and assist in his prosecution.
From 2005-2012, there is one individual with whom I have partnered, and do not remain as such-Justin French. The relationships I have developed with partners, bankers, architects and clients allowed me to overcome this period because of my reputation for candor and integrity in both personal and business relations. The individuals who are attempting to impugn my integrity by virtue of my partnership with French are doing so in complete disregard for the truth.
The interview attracted a good deal of attention. As excited as many 5th district residents were about some of Gammino’s, the past involvement with a fraud serving time for felony convictions gives some people pause. Certainly, the fans of Byrd Park’s new community garden are thankful for the shed that Gammino built and donated. But, as one commenter on the ByrdPark.net Facebook page said, “I’d had high hope for David’s campaign but I see his point. And I think we all deserve to know his exact involvement in the case.”