Audio: Pedicini and Beruff Deposed in Kruse DUI Case

Dennis "Mitch" Maley
BRADENTON — Earlier this month, TBT reported that developer Carlos Beruff and political consultant Anthony Pedicini were on the state's witness list for the DUI case that has been brought against Manatee County Commissioner George Kruse. Audio of the two witnesses' depositions obtained through a public record request by the Florida Center for Government Accountability, confirms rumors that Kruse was with Pedicini and Beruff on the evening of his crash.

On April 20, 2022, Kruse was involved in a single-car accident near the gate of his subdivision and charged with one count of reckless driving. However, two weeks later, bodycam footage and 911 call recordings were released, showing a clearly impaired Kruse behind the wheel of his crashed truck, while his wife, Jessica Kruse, pled with dispatchers not to send a patrol car to the crash site. Mrs. Kruse can also be heard directing her lethargic husband to get out of the crashed vehicle. 

Inexplicably, the responding officer did not ask the commissioner to submit to a breathalyzer or field sobriety test, despite expressing his opinion that Kruse was severely inebriated. Nevertheless, the State Attorney's Office charged Kruse in June. According to Pedicini's testimony, he and his client, Kruse, had a falling out over Kruse making workforce housing a priority issue, which he didn't think was helpful from a political perspective. They intended to meet in order to "make up," and, because Pedicini was having dinner with Beruff and his family at the developer's home that evening, asked if they could meet there prior.

Pedicini acknowledged that they had drinks but couldn't say for certain exactly how much Kruse had consumed, estimating it was about a glass and a half of wine. Both parties said that Beruff was present both before the meeting and after. Pedicini's consulting firm has worked closely in recent years with candidates who have been backed financially by the developer, including Kruse and fellow Manatee County Commissioners Kevin Van Ostenbridge and James Satcher, all of whom were elected to the board in 2020. 

Pedicini also handles many of the dark money PACs involved in those races and was the consultant for Mike Rahn and Jason Bearden, who also won seats on the board in Tuesday's election. That means Pedicini will now handle six of the seven commissioners on the board. Republican Amanda Ballard, who will challenge Democrat Reggie Bellamy for the District 2 seat in November, has also hired Pedicini's firm, giving him the potential to be in the employ of the entire board, should Ballard win.

Beruff, who is the founder of Medallion Homes, is one of the most politically-connected developers in the state and has enjoyed a tremendous amount of influence over Manatee County Republican politics. In 2020, he invested a small fortune in backing Kruse (through both campaign donations and PACs) to win over former Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker, with whom Beruff had fallen out, reportedly over Hunzeker's insistence on pushing a half-cent health care sales tax.

The investigation also revealed that in the time between the meeting at Beruff's house and the automobile accident, Kruse and his wife stopped at Sixty East, a martini bar near the Ellenton outlet mall, where they are said to have purchased a bottle of wine. Audio of both Beruff and Pedicini's testimony can be accessed below.

Reader Comments
Ron W.
AUG 29, 2022  •  Anybody have a reasonable explanation to how the Manatee County Sheriff's Deputies at the crash scene. Where they stated they were unable to issue Creepy Kruse a field sobriety test. Due to, they had no witnesses stating that Kruse actually was behind the wheel of the F-150. My question is : Why and how did they issue a careless driving citation ??? when they didn't know if he was the driver or not ?
J Heffner
AUG 29, 2022  •  Lying and Cheating and In Cahoots…Alive and Well in Manatee County
Mary Lou Kobac
AUG 28, 2022  •  The voters just removed two of those bought by the builders. Sounds like there are three more. I hope Beardon and Rahn are listening. We’ll just keep voting out commissioners until we get honest ones. Or, until the current ones STOP their unethical ways.
AUG 27, 2022  •  What a pussy if he was that drunk after a glass and a half of wine. God help Manatee County
AUG 27, 2022  •  We have been very content living and working in Manatee County for the past 27 years. We cannot wait to get OUT of here now. The REPUBLICON Insurrectionist Party has taken over. It is no longer safe here.
AUG 27, 2022  •  WOW. Could Beruff have tried to distance himself from Kruse any more? He obviously does not want to be any closer to the fire than necessary. Crazy and too "lighthearted" depositions.
Alan Randall
AUG 27, 2022  •  "A glass and a half of wine" Ya right!
AUG 26, 2022  •  It's frightening to think that Republicans (in the pocket of the developers) have the majority in the Manatee County Commission. It'll be "hail to the rich, middle class can suffer and the indigent are disposable". Shame on all of them.
Donna Hayes
AUG 26, 2022  •  Really curious or did I miss something ? Where was Jess Kruse after she left with George in his truck ? I read they went to a Martini bar but then where did she go - obviously, George just kept on drinking somewhere after he took her home. A really crazy couple for Sure.
Robert Snyder
AUG 26, 2022  •  More corruptness and dirty politicians
AUG 26, 2022  •  What a bunch of BS those interviews were so staged it’s not even funny and neither one of them are good actors get your shit together attorney generals these people are no good and they’re running our county we are in deep Doodoo
D Moore
AUG 26, 2022  •  Moved to Manatee County last year and have been alarmed and shocked by the continually reported state of county affairs, issues involving numerous public county elected officials and appointed staff, and the extreme political division and overreach of county commission members - which extends beyond and has nothing at all to do with its actual county government purpose and authority. Manatee County has a lot going for it with a great deal of potential; but must be managed by a cohesive and working commission and competent staff who are knowledgeable in county government function and interested in the good of the whole - not individual personal beliefs, politics and extreme division.
AUG 26, 2022  •  Since we know Pedicini reads this paper because he continues to comment on stories, these interviews sound like little school yard fights and for he and Beruff to say they had’t talked to anyone about this situation, really! How does it feel to hear yourself on these tapes stumble through an interview, for everyone to hear ? They don’t display the type of power they claim to have, embarrassing. As business people why would you keep a client that has drawn you into a situation where they obviously have a personal issue like this and at any point could hurt someone or themselves and why would you continue to financially contribute to a person who brought you, your family and home into the public light. MONEY and POWER, it must be so significant that you can’t even draw the line. Come on, it is just one vote, it’s clear you don’t need it now. You’ve got all the others. Drop this liar, cheat, fool and bring us a better bought and paid for candidate.
Linda Swarz
AUG 26, 2022  •  It doesn’t matter who the county commissioners are now as Manatee County is going to be run by Carlos Beruff and Anthony Pedicini.
Linda Swarz
AUG 26, 2022  •  It doesn’t matter who the county commissioners are now as Manatee County is going to be run by Carlos Beruff and Anthony Pedicini.
AUG 26, 2022  •  Straight from the horses mouth Beruff and Pedicini are working together…Pedicini worked with all 6 possibly 7 of the Republicans who will be on the BOCC come November…Wake up people what else do you need to know…And Pedicini was mad George brought up affordable housing, proof they are not for working class people….How do you say the board is corrupt without saying the board is corrupt.
AUG 26, 2022  •  It doesn't really matter. In Manatee County Republicons would elect someone who ran over a kid while drunk, just so long as he was Trumplican.
David Daniels
AUG 26, 2022  •  Jeez. I had to stop listening to the Pedicini audio after 5 min. Talk about a friendly interview - I wanted to gag. I know he is not a suspect, but please Ms State prosecutor, turn off the recorder and just ask him out.