Did a Hollywood commissioner go too far to help a former judge in neighbor dock dispute?

(WSVN) - A dispute over a dock has led to an ethics complaint filed against a Hollywood commissioner. Did she go too far to help a former judge? Brian Entin has tonight’s 7 Investigates.

Living on the water and having a boat has been a goal for Yaroslav Farber ever since he was a little boy growing up on the Black Sea in Russia.

Yaroslav Farber, dock dispute with neighbor: “It was my dream to buy some property on the water.”

Kyle Solomakha, Yaroslav’s son: “It’s for his family. He likes taking us out, showing the grandchildren a good time.”

Yaroslav got a permit from the City of Hollywood and spent $50,000 to build this dock and boat lift where he is building a house.

It looks like other docks in the city, but about a year after the dock was finished, he received a shocking letter in the mail.

The approved permit was declared “…null and void.”

Yaroslav Farber: “I was really, really surprised because I didn’t expect that such things could happen in America.”

How could the dock — built, inspected, signed off on and approved — suddenly not be allowed?

Yaroslav hired attorney Ryan Abrams to find out.

Ryan Abrams, attorney: “Yeah, I got a feeling that we had to get to the bottom of this.”

Abrams filed a public records request, and what he found left him speechless.

Ryan Abrams: “They were putting it all in writing. It was that open and obvious. It was that shameless.”

Yaroslav’s little dock issue was apparently a big issue for the city.

Abrams found hundreds of emails, some between Commissioner Caryl Shuham, city staff and Yaroslav’s neighbor, former Broward County Judge Jay Spechler.

Unbeknownst to Yaroslav, they were working together to get his dock removed.

Kyle Solomakha: “It makes me furious. My dad is such a good man, such a good person.”

It all started with the former judge emailing Commissioner Shuham in December 2018 calling Yaroslav’s dock “…unbelievably overwhelming and unacceptable.”

By June 2019, Commissioner Shuham emailed the city attorney, assistant city manager and engineer, “The City should make it clear that we reject this structure,” and should “…put a stop to the county approval ASAP.”

That same day, Commissioner Shuham texted the former judge, “staff seems worried they don’t have sufficient reason to deny.”

About a month later, he texts her, “…we need to be sure Staff follows through with their promise of revoking the dock permit…”

Commissioner Shuham responds with a thumbs up.

At one point, the city attorney emailed staff, “please be sure to attend to this matter as soon as possible. This needs to be a number one priority.”

Ryan Abrams, attorney: “You have acknowledgment that this was a number one priority. Again, this is a 280 square foot dock. No different than many others in this area.”

Commissioner Shuham sent 7News a statement saying residents, “…began raising serious concerns…” about the dock, and “this is not about particular individuals…”

Brian Entin: “My name is Brian Entin. I’m a reporter at Channel 7. I wanted to quickly ask you about the allegation that you were unethical in the handling of the dock situation?”

Commissioner Caryl Shuham: “You received my statement, and I’m just working hard on behalf of my residents to enhance our community and improve our environment. Thank you.”

Brian Entin: “Can you understand why Mr. Farber feels you took a side?”

After a year long battle, Yaroslav won.

His dock gets to stay because it never violated any rules.

Brian Entin: “How much money have you had to spend on lawyers, experts to fight this?”

Yaroslav Farber: “A lot of money, thousands and thousands already.”

Kyle Solomakha: “It’s unbelievable the treatment that the city provides to one person, and then, the treatment they provide to another is completely not on the same footing.”

We reached out to former judge Jay Spechler, but he did not respond. Meanwhile, the family has filed a state ethics complaint against the city commissioner and the city attorney.

CONTACT 7INVESTIGATES:
305-627-CLUE
954-921-CLUE
clue@wsvn.com

Copyright 2020 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.