A six-person jury today found Terry McManus, the 55-year-old operator of Flagler Beach’s city-owned golf course for the past five years, guilty of felony drunk driving, his third DUI within 10 years. McManus faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced on August 10. There is no minimum mandatory sentence with a third conviction. The judge could sentence him to state prison, to a term of less than a year at the county jail, or to probation for five years.
McManus faces another trial on a felony insurance fraud charge later this year, and is battling a civil suit in a breach of contract case involving the golf club’s management company.
McManus was taken into custody immediately after the verdict and booked at the Flagler County jail, his bond having been revoked.
The Flagler Beach City Commission has had a fraught relationship with McManus in the five years he’s run Ocean Palms, the nine-hole golf course at the south end of the city. Weeks ago commissioners were again complaining that he McManus was not producing financial reports about activity at the golf course, as required by contract.
The commission was meeting in a goal-setting session today. It is unclear how it will proceed in light of McManus’s conviction–or how the golf course would be run, though McManus has a staff there. “That’s him as a person. We rent it to an LLC, so I don’t know where they overlap each other or not,” Commissioner Rick Belhumeur said, noting he would discuss the matter with the commission at its meeting on Thursday.
McManus was also found guilty today on a misdemeanor charge of refusing to submit to a breathalizer test. He was at the wheel of a golf cart that had become stuck in the sand in the construction zone on State Road A1A in Flagler Beach when city police found him, disoriented and drunk, early the morning of July 24, 2019. (His diver’s license had been permanently revoked in 2017.)
He kept telling a Flagler Beach police officer that he was sorry, but immediately declined to carry out field sobriety exercises. His defense included the argument that his golf cart was inoperable, so he could not be found of drunk driving. But as the judge instructed the jury, the question was whether he was in “actual physical control of the vehicle,” which had been established rather convincingly, and whether his faculties were impaired. He did not have to be driving the vehicle to be found guilty.
“I appreciate the State Attorney’s office helping with this case as well as the jury weighing the evidence, listening to all the testimony and doing what they were sworn to do,” Flagler Beach Police Chief Matt Doughney said today, “because being on a jury is not something taken lightly and from law enforcement’s side, we appreciate them taking the time to do due diligence.”
If McManus were to qualify for a restricted license, he’ll be required to install, at his expense, an ignition interlock device on all vehicles that are individually or jointly leased or owned and routinely operated by him.
The two-day trial was conducted before Circuit Judge Chris France and prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney James Nealis. McManus was represented by Assistant Public Defender Bill Bookhammer. The trial later this year centers on a third-degree felony charge of fraud, with a maximum prison term of five years if McManus is found guilty, though if her were so adjudicated, the sentences could run concurrently.