An open letter to Richard Anderson: For the sake of Apopka, put this case behind you


By Reggie Connell/ Managing Editor of The Apopka Voice

In the early morning hours of April 5th, Richard Anderson changed a lot of lives. When his Dodge Ram crossed the center line on SR46 and crashed into Michael Falcon’s Toyota, the former City Administrator took the Apopka community on one of the darkest journeys in its history.

This story has been a chronic malignancy in the Apopka news cycle for over 15 months now. It’s a story writers don’t like writing. It’s an issue the City Council doesn’t want to deliberate. It’s a case the Lake County State Attorney, and the Florida Highway Patrol would like to put behind them. It’s a subject the residents of Apopka don’t want to talk about.

And now it’s time for it to end. It’s  time for this tragic, unthinkable, unending saga to conclude, and I’m calling on you, Mr. Anderson, to drop this lawsuit.

I don’t know how much money you have made in Apopka, but I suspect you are approaching seven figures after a long career as a paramedic, fire chief, city administrator, consultant, and lobbyist. I was not the Managing Editor of The Apopka Voice when you were city administrator, but I am told by people who knew you that you did a good job. I take them at their word and have no reason to believe you didn’t love Apopka with the passion I am told you did.

If that is the case, if you truly love Apopka, then I urge you to end this polarizing issue and let Apopka heal. Forego the trial. Nothing good can come from it.

Count your blessings, sir. You were involved in a head-on collision.  The person your pickup crashed into was seriously injured and airlifted to ORMC.  Three 911 calls were made on his behalf.  None were from you Mr. Anderson, despite making several calls shortly after the collision, but at least you were able to walk away relatively uninjured.

Some might classify that as a miracle.

A year later the Lake County State Attorney agreed to a shocking plea agreement that sentenced you to three years probation on the charge of leaving the scene of a crash involving injury, and six months probation on the charge of leaving the scene of an accident. Two other charges – reckless driving causing serious bodily injury, and reckless driving with bodily damage were dropped because the prosecutors claimed the Florida Highway Patrol was unable to prove you drove the vehicle. Considering the maximum penalty for those charges was five years in prison, five years probation, and a $5,000 fine per count, everyone can agree it was an extremely lenient sentence.

The Apopka City Commission voted 3-2 Wednesday to reject your $60,000 settlement agreement. And with that split decision comes a polarized Apopka.

Mayor Joe Kilsheimer gave no opinion in the discussion except to read from a prepared statement that shows his hope for a fast conclusion to this matter.

“Earlier in the case, we proposed that both sides walk away from the litigation with no money changing hands. At mediation, the choice became this… decide on my own to take the case to trial or bring a settlement agreement back to this council. After some interaction, it became clear that I could not substitute my judgment for the Council’s judgment. With regards to whether the city should continue this litigation is, in my opinion, better to express the will of the community through this City Council rather than my judgment alone. With regards to this amount, this is the lowest amount to which the other side would agree.”

Commissioner Doug Bankson took a pragmatic approach that few could disagree with.

“Have we already suffered and are we just extending something that only further hurts our city for personal vindictiveness? We’ve all sat through all these budget hearings. Looking at the financial side, it does have ramifications as well because it affects what we can do for our city and citizens.”

Commissioner Kyle Becker also took an approach few could disagree with.

“My litmus test, the first thing I’m asking myself is right versus wrong. For that reason I’m willing to risk dollars if it means we’re doing the right thing to protect the integrity of the people of this town who entrust people like Mr. Anderson. That’s where my stance is and I really don’t think I’m budging on this one.”

It’s simply wrong to pay you a settlement when the fault lies with you, Mr. Anderson. With all due respect, you were convicted of two felonies, nearly killed a person, watched as less qualified passers-by came to his aid while you made 10-plus phone calls, and walked away. If the mayor, any member of the City Council, or any department head of the City of Apopka had committed those acts, they would have resigned or been fired. They would not have counter-sued the city, and most of them make a lot less money than you did.

I would also draw from the wisdom of Commissioner Bankson…

“Have we already suffered and are we just extending something that only further hurts our city for personal vindictiveness?”

I would ask Bankson’s question of you sir. What is the motivation for extending this case? If vindictiveness plays a part in this case, please rise above it sir.

For the sake of Apopka forego this lawsuit, Mr. Anderson. Do not put this city through another trauma. Allow your final action in this matter to be a selfless act.


  1. I am sure that Mr. Anderson, after due deliberation and heartfelt prayer in the matter is going to do what a gentleman, a professional, and a real man would do, what his heart dictates if he ever desires to walk with his head held high in this community again. God bless you sir, may your conscience be your guide. Sincerely, Charles Towne

    • Right. When you can’t come up with an intelligent point-by-point rebuttal, find fault with the person who wrote the original opinion! How original! Let’s look at the FACTS, shall we? This whole mess involving Mr. Anderson was inherited by Mayor Kilsheimer as a result of multiple sweetheart deals from the previous mayor, that kindly old gentleman who walks on water. Everybody in this country is entitled to legal representation no matter how despicable the charges. Every defense attorney is required by law to fully represent his/her client and every defendant wants to get off with as little penalty as possible. If the police officer did not see the collision or have any viable testifiable witnesses then they cannot charge the defendant without said proof! I doubt the average Apopkan cares about this case. Many do not even know who the Mayor is, let alone council. So I don’t if any large percentage of Apopkans are wringing their hands and losing sleep over this. It’s a sad FACT, but most just don’t care!

  2. This is a heartfelt, rational article. The problem is, I don’t think Mr. Anderson has a conscience, nor do I think he gives a hoot about Apopka or the people in it. Very, very sad. One more thing to cause commotion in our town.

  3. It came down to helping an injured person with his paramedic training or protecting and hiding his wrongdoings. He chose his path and it appears he’s not remorseful enough to correct those bad decisions or even to just walk away and put it behind him. Whether he’s in too deep or it’s spite that’s causing him to pursue this, it’s his defining moment

  4. I am trying to find the heartfelt part of this letter. I would even like to see where it is rational. The writer made a plea for Richard to end a suit. The City filed the suit!!! ONLY THE CITY CAN END A SUIT, THEY FILED. Oops, I guess all you smart people forgot that part.

  5. What a blessing to our fair town to see Mr. Gondera, with his anal mind and his cronies who find him cute, fading into irrelevance.

  6. Stop the name calling, the mayor negotiated a settlement and then voted against it , is who has his head up his ass, so who is kidding who, the city should just live up to this settlement, and then we will be done, stop dragging it out.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here