Source: County Official Was Dropping Relative at Homeless Center -- Before Shutting It Down

Palm Beach County code enforcement took a hard line on handouts at Westgate Tabernacle.
Palm Beach County code enforcement took a hard line on handouts at Westgate Tabernacle.
Flickr: Alfredo11

When Terry Verner was director of code enforcement for Palm Beach County, he led the charge to shut down the homeless services at Westgate Tabernacle on Suwanna Drive in West Palm Beach. Now a man claiming to be Verner's former brother-in-law has come forward with allegations that Verner is a "hypocrite."

An excerpt of the blog comment, which followed a 2008 article in the Palm Beach Post:

My wife and I stayed at Westgate Tabernacle due to falling on hard times. Mr. Verner and my sister would pick us up and take us to their house for breakfast and dinner. We would do our laundry and Mr. Verner would take us back to Westgate Tabernacle. He would park a street or two over and tell us we had to walk because if he got caught dropping us off, he would lose his job.

Verner retired from his county post last year. He has an unlisted telephone number and could not be reached for comment.

Barry Silver, the attorney who has represented Westgate Tabernacle during its decade-long wrestling match with the county's code enforcement division, says that the author of the comment is Phillip Stevens, brother of Cindy Stevens, Terry Verner's ex-wife.

This afternoon, Juice reached Cindy Stevens by phone. "I have no comment," she said when asked whether her ex-husband dumped off her brother at Westgate Tabernacle.

But Silver says Stevens was much more forthcoming with him, first by phone, then in a face-to-face meeting. "She confirmed everything -- 'I drove over to Westgate with my husband Terry...'" He says she confirmed the part about dropping off her brother a few blocks from the church, for political reasons. Silver claims that Stevens was even ready to sign an affidavit before she abruptly changed her mind.

Phillip Stevens couldn't be reached for comment.

Last month, Silver and Westgate had their federal lawsuit against the county thrown out. But now Silver is looking to make an issue out of his new findings. On February 25, Silver wrote a letter to the Palm Beach County attorney saying that Phillip Steven's comment "indicates that when Terry Verner testified at trial that Westgate was in violation of the Palm Beach County Zoning codes, he did not really believe this."

A county attorney responded with a letter saying that whether or not Verner patronized Westgate Tabernacle, it's "completely irrelevant to the litigation" -- which revolves around whether the church was in compliance with occupancy limitations and whether it was permitted to make improvements to the property.


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