DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- He was once suspected by a neighboring DeLand family of four of leaving a dripping used condom with blood on it on the welcoming mat of their front porch door as a perverse act of intimidation.
The wife and mom of two little kids discovered it upon returning from an errand -- snagging a pair of sterile gloves to pick it up before it could lead to disaster.
Several Volusia County Sheriff's deputies responded and one of them in turn put on a pair of sterile gloves to pick up the nasty find crumpled within the moms discarded and bunched-up gloves subsequently scooped into an evidence bag to be brought back to headquarters for storage.
And though the husband and others in the quiet neighborhood suspected this was the handiwork of one John Casaburro, for years seen as an agitator, deputies closed the case because there was nothing linking the used bloodied condom to any known crime. A VCSO incident report was taken with a statement provided by the wife who saw the used-bloody condom.
Perhaps this Aug. 25, 2009 incident was just a twisted prank like something Norman Bates might have conjured up to please his dead mother early on in the movie "Psycho." This was the most egregious of a series of harassment-like incidents requiring law enforcement to intervene.
That same year, the same neighbors who dealt with the used bloody condom were upset that Casaburro was overt in taking photographs of their vehicles and other outdoor items, as described in another VCSO incident report, but because he remained on his own property, no criminal charges could be filed against him, responding deputies told the husband and wife who were seeking an arrest.
Here was the ultimate political dilemma -- a loner with minimal name recognition, no money to finance a legitimate campaign and no chance of winning. So what's the lowest common denominator move of 66-year-old John Casaburro?
The answer is as obvious as it is dishonest and unethical: Slime the front-runner with phony rumors and fake allegations.
In other words, manufacture lies about the opponent.
But in his oh so pathetic and disgraceful scheme to shake up the At-Large Volusia County Council race, Casaburro could not escape his past, which besides leaving the bloody used condom on the neighbors' porch, includes patently disturbing racial remarks and an arrest for soliciting a prostitute.
For more than two months, the contest to fill a soon-to-be-vacant seat on the County Council appeared to be a two-candidate race headed for a Nov. 6 showdown. Conventional wisdom had Ben Johnson, the popular, former four-term sheriff cruising to victory in the countywide race against Deltona resident Ronald Durham.
But then, two days before the ballot was set, Casaburro lobbed a curveball by jumping into the race as a write-in candidate.
And just like that, the contest to replace term-limited Council Member Joyce Cusack became a three-way sprint that in all likelihood will be settled during the Aug. 28 primary anyway. So who really is backing this backdoor sleazy move? Political insiders point to Chitwood himself and one of his newfound allies, a political consultant and previously-failed candidate for public office in David Lee Davis, one of the louder anti-Volusia County status quo antagonists.
As a write-in candidate, Casaburro’s name won’t even appear on the ballot. The electorate will have to write it in if they want to cast a vote for Casaburro -- assuming they even know he’s running and can spell his name correctly. It’s an all but impossibility for Casaburro. What was he thinking? Well, it didn’t take long to find out. His apparent motivation for getting into the race was to try to play spoiler by spreading false accusations about Johnson.
After all, Durham is an ordained minister who is highly respected in the black community and not known for popping off. And in Casaburro's case, it's not just about spreading the poison but making up the stuff, to begin with.
Johnson was emphatic in telling Headline Surfer he had no intention no intention of dignifying the allegations and assisting Casaburro with his gutter politics by repeating the accusations here for this story, but the former lawman did not mince words in stating what comes out of Casaburro's mouth is "disgusting and despicable and completely lacking in any factual basis."
Casaburro first tried to spread his verbal poison throughout the ranks of the Volusia County Republican Party, with which he has had a long and contentious history. At one time, Casaburro held a leadership position on the GOP executive committee, but the relationship soured and ended in a lawsuit.
While County Council elections are non-partisan, the local political parties nonetheless have long gotten involved in the races by throwing their weight behind their preferred candidates. Casaburro’s sleazy gambit, however, did not pay off.
“I campaigned for the endorsement, but I didn’t get it,” an obviously bitter Casaburro lamented during a radio interview on July 12 with WNDB 1150 AM talk show host Marc Bernier, a key Chitwood supporter. And in case there was any doubt where the Volusia County Republican Party stands with respect to Casaburro, it was made crystal clear when the GOP executive committee chaired by Tony Ledbetter recently shared a post on its Facebook page with the following message: “Vote for Ben Johnson – Republican Executive Committee Endorsed Candidate for County Council At-Large.”
But even as the Republicans have long since slammed the door shut on Casaburro -- clearly on the outside and with absolutely no shot at ever being allowed to re-enter -- he continues to distribute fliers, repeat his phony allegations at campaign appearances and push them out to e-mail recipients.
“I am attaching two very important communications for your consideration,” Casaburro wrote in one of his email smears. “Please consider them both with great urgency.”
In yet another poison email, Casaburro, in all his arrogant regalness, boldly predicted that as a result of his allegations, “Johnson will have to quit the race.”
In yet another poison email, John Casaburro, the 66-year-old write-in candidate in all his arrogant regalness in taking on one of the most popular elected leaders in Volusia County's history, boldly predicted that as a result of his allegations, “Johnson will have to quit the race.”
One voter who attended a recent political event where Casaburro was distributing his phony sleaze piece reported that the candidate got downright ugly and intimidating when he was challenged to provide proof of the allegations. Naturally, Casaburro was unable to back up his allegations – for the very reason that they have no basis in fact. They aren't true, period.
Instead, Casaburro tried to bully the person demanding to see proof.
“He got so angry at me that he hovered over me in a very threatening manner,” said the vote of his encounter with Cassaburro. His name is being withheld by Headline Surfer to spare him further harassment from Casaburro and others like him that are stirring the pot behind the scenes.
For his part, Ben Johnson reports being flooded with phone calls and social media messages from outraged voters. So far, Johnson has taken the high road and purposely keeping his public comments to a minimum.
Certainly, plenty of people are hopping mad about Casaburro’s gutter tactics.
“I hate trashy campaigns!” one Johnson supporter wrote in an e-mail to him. “But it really makes me angry when they trash honorable people!”
Another said of the slime piece: “I think it is slander and libel against you.” Yet another was even more blunt in a post on Johnson’s Facebook campaign page: “Time to crucify this clown.”
In a recent story published in the West Volusia Beacon profiling the at-large council race, Casaburro evidently told the bylined writer that this was his first time running for political office. That, as it turns out, also isn’t true. But it’s certainly understandable why Casaburro would want to run away from his past.
In 1989, while living in New York and running for Mayor of Yonkers, Casaburro made headlines in the New York city newspapers for highly inflammatory and degrading comments suggesting that most African-Americans had it good during this country’s slavery era. “Ninety percent of all Blacks lived well and had it good” under slavery, Casaburro was quoted as saying.
The article went on to report that Casaburro degraded the African-American culture by saying: “Most Blacks are encouraged not to marry a woman. They’re encouraged to impregnate, not marry her because it’s almost an irresponsibility to get married since welfare will take care of her.”
Casaburro’s racist remarks were outed by Johnson in an NAACP candidate forum.
In 1994, the New York Times reported that following a failed Congressional bid in New York, Casaburro was arrested during a prostitution sweep in Manhattan after he struck up a conversation about oral sex and money with a woman who turned out to be an undercover officer.
When he was arrested, Casaburro was reported to be carrying a flier identifying himself as a candidate in the 18th Congressional District race. He was charged with patronizing a prostitute. Casaburro sued then-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the City of New York over the arrest, seeking $10 million in damages. It didn't take long for the suit to be thrown out.
Giuliani, the City of New York and The Volusia County Republican Executive Committee aren’t the only ones to be on the receiving end of Casaburro’s frivolous lawsuits. In the past, he also has sued, among others, a New York grocery chain, a roofer, the County of Volusia, the Volusia County Council and the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
In his 2007 suit against the County of Volusia, Casaburro challenged the constitutionality of the county’s local non-partisan elections. He claimed that non-partisan races violated his First Amendment right to know the party affiliation of candidates running for local office. Oddly, in light of his blatantly racist remarks in New York, Casaburro and a co-plaintiff argued in their suit that non-partisan elections are also “perpetrated on black voters,” in violation of the 15th Amendment and of the Voting Rights Act. The case was dismissed.
Casaburro’s troubles didn’t end there.
In 2014, the Orange City Police Department charged Casaburro with distributing false information about a sex offender. And his frequent squabbles with neighbors have resulted in law enforcement being called on numerous occasions. During interviews with responding officers, Casaburro claimed to be the head of a homeowners association. But even that claim seemed questionable to deputies.
A responding deputy wrote in an August 2009 incident report: “Casaburro also told Deputy King he is the president of the homeowner’s association which to Deputy King’s knowledge does not exist.”
A month later, another deputy responding to an incident involving Casaburro documented the following in his report: “Casaburro claimed to be the president of a Homeowners Association, but then admitted that he merely initiates action to remove undesirable residents from the neighborhood.”
Then, after about a decade of perceived slights and wrongs, Casaburro decided to jump into politics once again.
During his recent radio interview with Bernier, Casaburro was asked a series of question about his County Council candidacy:
• Had he looked at the County budget? “No, not directly,” Casaburro responded. “If elected, I promise to do that.”
• Had Casaburro appeared before the County Council on any issue? No, he responded, and then added the following explainer: “I’m not the type of guy that goes to meetings.”
• Had Casaburo been on the County Council at the time, would he have opposed some of the economic stimulus incentives that the county gave to several businesses? “I don’t know that issue for sure and I rely on other people to inform me. So I can’t speak to that right now.”
Other sample quotes by Casaburro from that disastrous radio interview include, but are not limited to the following:
• “I’m not totally familiar with that issue.”
• “I really have to look more into the details of that before I say yes or no.”
When asked about his qualifications for office, Casaburro insisted: “I have the credibility and the background.”
And that, by any objective measure, would seem to be just another one of Casaburro’s countless lies, say those who have dealt with him and his kind.