(Photo by Frank Fernandez/The Daytona Beach News-Journal)
Terrence McManus, CEO of the company that has run the nine-hole Ocean Palm Golf Course for the city of Flagler Beach, Fla. since 2015, was sentenced for felony driving under the influence and refusal to submit, two years after he was found late at night hunched over the wheel of a golf cart that was mired in soft sand in a construction zone. McManus also faces a charge of insurance fraud in an unrelated case, and William Whitson, Flagler Beach’s City Manager, said he would wait to see what happens with that case before determining whether the lease for Ocean Palm should be terminated. The city is also looking at the status of the course’s liquor license. “It’s an embarrassing situation and we are not proud of it,” Whitson said. “But it is what it is.”
The CEO of the company that runs Flagler Beach, Fla.’s municipal golf course was sentenced on October 6th to four years in prison for felony driving under the influence, two years after he was found hunched over the wheel of a golf cart smelling of alcohol, The Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal reported.
Terrence McManus, 56, is the CEO of Flagler Golf Management, which has run the city’s nine-hole Ocean Palm Golf Course since leasing it in 2015, The News-Journal reported. The lease runs for 15 years.
McManus, who still faces a charge of insurance fraud in an unrelated case, pleaded with Circuit Judge Christopher France to send him to an 18-month-long in-patient treatment center in Orlando, Fla. for substance abuse instead of prison, The News-Journal reported.
“I’m begging for it,” McManus said. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at my past and realize that I have a long history of a battle with alcohol.”
McManus had turned down an offer from prosecutors to serve two years in prison followed by three years of probation for both the DUI charge as well as the insurance-fraud case, The News-Journal reported.
Flagler Beach City Manager William Whitson said before the sentencing hearing that the city was waiting to see what happens with the fraud charge against McManus before determining what to do about his relationship with the city golf course, The News-Journal reported. The DUI, Whitson said, was not enough to fire McManus.
“It’s not grounds to terminate a contract or take any kind of action on the city’s part,” Whitson said. “But a fraud charge may potentially hold that option out for the commission.”
McManus has appointed someone to act in his place as the golf course manager, which has been checked and is legal, Whitson added. Whitson also said that the city is looking at the status of the golf course’s liquor license, The News-Journal reported.
“It’s raising our attention level and we are going to follow up,” he said.
The agreement with the city calls for McManus to pay the city after he clears expenses at the golf course, Whitson told the News-Journal. The city currently has an auditor examining operations at Ocean Palm, he said.
“It’s an embarrassing situation and we are not proud of it,” Whitson said. “But it is what it is.”
The golf-related entries on McManus’ resume also includes time from 1986-1988 as Director of Outside Operations for the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
During the sentencing proceeding, McManus’ defense attorney, Matthew Maguire summoned a therapist, Drew Breznitsky, to the witness stand who testified that McManus suffered from PTSD and alcohol-, cocaine- and cannabis-use disorders, The News-Journal reported.
McManus testified he had been raised by a single mother and had a difficult early life but had been doing better until his arrest. He said he has a growing family with a daughter attending law school and a son serving in the Marine Corps, The News-Journal reported.
But Assistant State Attorney James Nealis recounted McManus’s criminal record dating back to a 1993 conviction for robbery and dealing in stolen property, The News-Journal reported. Nealis also said that McManus was charged with driving under the influence in 2003 and 2007, driving with a suspended license in 2011, and with boating under the influence in 2017.
Nealis said McManus had not sought treatment after those cases, The News-Journal reported.
“Mr. McManus, is it your contention that post traumatic stress caused you to drive that golf cart that night?” Nealis asked during the proceedings, The News-Journal reported..
“It’s my contention that I wasn’t driving a golf cart that night,” McManus replied.
McManus said the golf cart was broken down or stuck in the sand and no one was driving it, The News-Journal reported.
A jury decided otherwise and convicted McManus of felony driving under the influence and prior refusal to submit to testing.
Nealis said during his closing argument at the sentencing that McManus still was not accepting the jury’s verdict, The News-Journal reported.
The case began when a Flagler Beach police officer found McManus hunched over the wheel of the golf cart at 1:32 a.m. on July 24, 2019, The News-Journal reported. The golf cart was mired in soft sand in a construction zone on South Oceanshore Blvd., which had been closed to traffic as crews repaired road damage from Hurricane Matthew.
McManus’s speech was slurred and he kept saying “sorry” to the officer, according to testimony in the proceeding, The News-Journal reported. When the officer asked for his driver’s license, McManus handed over a credit card. He refused to provide a breathalyzer sample and his breath smelled of alcohol, according to the officer’s report. He had trouble getting out of the cart and had to hold onto it to stand, the report said.
The prosecutor said McManus had received breaks in the past and it was time he received prison time, and asked that he be sentenced to five years, The News-Journal reported. The defense attorney asked the judge to impose probation, saying McManus was willing to plead in the other case so the probation could be even longer
Before sentencing, France asked McManus why he had not sought treatment for substance abuse, The News-Journal reported. McManus said he couldn’t afford the treatment or that he was too busy tending to his businesses, including a real estate firm and a dock repair company. He said his business is suffering now and he is losing clients because he is in jail. He also said he was trying to separate himself in “an amicable way” from his lease with the city for operating the Ocean Palm course.
France adjudicated McManus as guilty and sentenced him to 48 months in state prison for driving under the influence, The News-Journal reported. “The defendant for 22 years has been involved in incidents where he’s violated the law,” he said. The judge added that McManus had the time and resources in the past to get the treatment he was now asking for.
France also sentenced McManus to 364 days in the Flagler County Jail on the prior refusal-to-submit charge, The News-Journal reported. The terms are to run concurrently. McManus received credit for 107 days already served in the county jail.
McManus also was charged in 2020 with insurance fraud under $20,000, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and false report of a crime, a first-degree misdemeanor, The News-Journalreported. He is accused of filing a false insurance claim for a skid steer, according to a report from the Flagler Beach Police Department.
McManus has a hearing on that case set for November 2nd, The News-Journal reported.