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Documents: Channelside ownership fight prompted sheriff’s office inquiry

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Published:   |   Updated: February 24, 2014 at 04:14 PM

TAMPA — The contentious fight over ownership of Channelside Bay Plaza sparked a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office inquiry last year into whether a developer had threatened the Tampa Port Authority, documents recently made public show.

A sheriff’s office report dated May 17 states that Tampa Port Authority security director Mark Dubina was “under the impression that threats were possibly made” by Sontosh Govindaraju of Convergent Capital. The group is partnering with the Liberty Group to try to buy the troubled retail and entertainment complex.

The sheriff’s report came after Govindaraju had a meeting May 15 with Troy Manthey, owner of the Yacht StarShip dining cruise. Govindaraju said he requested the meeting with Manthey to discuss the partnership’s interest in the Channelside complex.

Manthey subsequently contacted the port authority to tell them about a “strange conversation,” and the port asked the sheriff’s office to interview Manthey.

Manthey said Govindaraju was acting “very bizarre” and complaining about dealing with Tampa Port Authority attorneys, calling them “arrogant pigs,” the sheriffs report states.

The report lay dormant until a week ago, when it came to light during depositions taken Feb. 11 in Tampa for a federal bankruptcy hearing in Delaware. Both the port authority and the developers are trying to buy Channelside Bay Plaza from the bankrupt Irish bank that holds the mortgage.

Govindaraju said Friday he was shocked at the accusation he had threatened anyone with the port authority.

He sent an email to Manthey on Feb. 12, with the subject line “Really.” In the email he wrote, “I am way to (sic) experienced of a general to make a threat, that’s for the novices.”

Manthey forwarded a copy of the email to port authority attorney Charles Klug. The Tampa Tribune obtained the email along with the May sheriff’s report as part of a public records request.

“I just wanted the port to be aware I was very concerned,” Manthey said Friday. “I hope we can have a positive outcome for Channelside.”

tjackovics@tampatrib.com

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