State drops charges against Drotos, Ryals

Daniel Drotos (left) and Michael Ryals
Criminal charges against real estate agents Daniel Drotos (left) and Michael Ryals were recently dropped after they were accused of stealing trade secrets.

The state has dropped criminal charges against two local real estate agents who were accused of stealing trade secrets when they left one real estate firm for another.  

On Tuesday, the Office of State Attorney Brian Kramer confirmed in a statement to Mainstreet Daily News that it had “dismissed all criminal charges” for Daniel Drotos and Michael Ryals, along with “related allegations against others.”  

The statement said mediation led by former State Attorney Rod Smith on Sept. 14 led to a settlement. The statement said participants observed “all requirements of Florida’s Marsy’s Law”—a statute designed to protect victims—meaning details will remain limited.  

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“By consenting to mediate the criminal cases, the State Attorney worked with the named victims and the defendants, as well as other interested parties, to reach a fair and just resolution in light of the circumstances surrounding the charges,” the statement said. “All affected persons acknowledge the efforts by the State Attorney that brought this matter to a fair and satisfactory conclusion.” 

The criminal case against Drotos and Ryals stemmed from their departure from Bosshardt Realty Services to Colliers International in 2019. Bosshardt made numerous accusations of wrongdoing, which led to a Gainesville Police Department (GPD) investigation and high-profile SWAT raid at Colliers’ downtown office in June 2021.  

Last February, Kramer’s office filed felony charges against Drotos and Ryals for racketeering, scheme to defraud/organized fraud and theft of trade secrets. 

“All participants to the mediation recognized that the State Attorney initially filed a criminal Information against Mr. Ryals and Mr. Drotos based upon evidence provided to the State after an investigation by the Gainesville Police Department,” the Tuesday statement from Kramer’s office said. 

The resolution to the criminal case comes after an arbitrator ruled against Bosshardt in June. Melvia B. Green, a retired judge, called the accusations against Drotos and Ryals “unsubstantiated” and ordered Bosshardt Realty Services to pay them about $1.4 million in unpaid commissions and attorneys fees.  

Multiple civil suits filed in connection to the case have been closed in the wake of the settlement. Among them: A suit Colliers employee Rory Causseaux filed in August alleging a “conspiracy” to take out a competitor that put his life at risk.  

In a phone interview, Causseaux’s attorney, Jeff Childers, said Causseaux did not receive any monetary damages in the settlement, but he said he was prohibited from disclosing what his client did receive.

Unrelated to the settlement, claims in a July suit against GPD—brought by people in the Colliers building at the time of the 2021 SWAT raid—have been voluntarily dismissed. Claims against the city of Gainesville, detective Ronald A. Pinkerton and Lieutenant M. West are still pending. 

“They moved to dismiss the police department on the grounds that it’s a subsidiary of the city,” Childers said. “We agreed to that because as part of the city we are getting them anyway.”

Childers said he expects the case to move forward and to reach the discovery phase next.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comments from Jeff Childers.

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