Manatee Port Authority to delay action against executive director after arrest

Chairwoman Carol Whitmore said she will wait until an investigation is complete.

cschelle@bradenton.comSeptember 9, 2013 

Port Manatee Executive Director Carlos Buqueras after his arrest last month. MANATEE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE.

MANATEE -- Manatee County's Port Authority will not take any immediate action against its arrested executive director who faces domestic battery charges.

Carlos Buqueras, port executive director, faces a misdemeanor charge after a dispute with his wife Saturday over household bills, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office. Buqueras was released from Manatee County jail Sunday on $500 bond.

Port Authority Chairwoman Carol Whitmore said that the authority will wait to make a decision, based on advice by the port's law firm of Lewis, Longman & Walker of Bradenton.

"This is distressing, but we have to wait until all the facts come out," Whitmore told the Bradenton Herald.

Buqueras could lose his job for the battery charge, according to the Port Authority's employee policy handbook.

Policy 5-702 (r) states that port employees can be disciplined or dismissed for "any fraudulent, criminal or dishonest act(s) committed alone or in collusion with others, including but not limited to stealing, embezzlement, extortion, assault, battery or vandalism, whether committed on or off the job, and whether criminally prosecuted or not."

Whitmore said she learned of the incident Sunday and isn't sure how the authority will handle a misdemeanor arrest in a domestic case.

The Port Authority handled felony charges against the son of the port's deputy executive director Robert J. Armstrong differently. Robert B. Armstrong, the son, faces felony charges after sheriff's investigators said he stole thousands of dollars worth of port property to fund a drug habit. The son, as well as his father, who is charged with being an accessory to the crime, also a felony, were both dismissed from the port before being prosecuted on the charges.

"Until the investigation and until all the facts are presented, I'm not going to make any judgment and not make any other comment besides that," Whitmore said.

Buqueras' arrest came as part of a dispute over bills at the couple's Parrish home, according to a Manatee County Sheriff's report. The argument prompted his wife to throw her ring into the pool, according to the affidavit.

The dispute turned physical when Buqueras pushed his wife to the ground and started to punch her, then dragged her into the house, according to an arrest affidavit. A sheriff's deputy took pictures of Buqueras' wife's back and noted a "red abrasion on her back" that would corroborate her story of being dragged.

This is Buqueras' first criminal offense in Manatee, according to court records.

Buqueras did not return calls from the Herald for comment.

Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter@ImYourChuck.

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