The Villages director of technology took the witness stand in federal court on Tuesday alleging that departing Properties of The Villages representatives stole proprietary information.
Dale Borrowman, owner and operator of The Villages Technology Solutions Group was one of several witnesses called to the stand Tuesday in federal court in Tampa as The Villages tries to build its case against former top producers Christopher Day and Jason Kranz, who walked out the door in 2019 to form their own real estate venture, KD Premier Realty.
Borrowman, who has worked for The Villages for 26 years, identified several email documents which he said showed that Day and Kranz emailed themselves proprietary information taken from the AS400 system used by The Villages. The AS400 system has entries on more than one million people who have bought homes in The Villages, considered buying homes in The Villages, or had some type of contact with The Villages. The AS400 tracks financial information, people’s birthdays, anniversary, hobbies and even the names of their pets.
Jonathan Pollard, the attorney representing Day, Kranz and fellow former Properties of The Villages sales representatives Angela Kranz, Nanette Elliott and Angie Taylor, pushed back hard on some of the assumptions Borrowman made on the stand. Pollard asked Borrowman if Day’s emailing information from a corporate Villages account to his own corporate Villages account violated the computer user agreement he had signed. Borrowman admitted it did not.
Pollard also pointed out his clients never removed or destroyed information in the AS400.
Former associates take the stand
Properties of The Villages representative Beth Pope took the stand and spoke about her relationships with Day and Kranz, and said she shared the top tier of sales performance with them.
Pope, an 11-year veteran of the powerful sales arm of The Villages, said during her years with General Motors in Michigan and working her way into the top 3 percent of realtors with Coldwell Banker in the Wolverine State, she never enjoyed the financial success she has earned here in The Villages.
She said that Day and Kranz were hard workers who also wanted to succeed. Because of their work ethic, she felt a kinship with them. The trio at one point grew frustrated with their team, which fell short of sales goals. They were financially penalized, despite their strong sales, because other low performers were dragging them down, Pope said. They discussed taking their concerns to Jennifer Parr, vice president of sales for The Villages, who spent most of Monday on the stand.
Pope said she was “devastated” on Dec. 16, 2019, when Day and Kranz sent bombshell emails to all their colleagues announcing their abrupt departure. Pope said she was at a model center when she read the email.
“I really didn’t know what was happening,” she testified.
She added that it could signal a mass exodus of sales representatives.
Pope instinctively drove to the office in Brownwood where she saw several managers frantically talking on the phone.
She said Day tried to recruit her.
“I have made more money here than I have ever made,” Pope said.
She said that money has afforded her everything from putting her children through college, helping them with down payments on their homes and contributing to her parents’ church back up north.
She said she turned down the recruitment offer and chose to stay with The Villages. Her husband and daughter also sell for Properties of The Villages.
Tim Harding, who joined Properties of The Villages in 2011 as an independent contractor, said he has “eight reasons” to work hard every day – his wife and seven children. The Williston native had some experience in retail sales, but testified on the stand that he has learned everything that has made him successful through training opportunities offered through Properties of The Villages. The son of a pastor, Harding said he relied “religiously” on the wealth of information in the AS400 system.
In 2017, Harding jumped from being an independent contractor to taking on a job as an employee with the leadership team at Properties of The Villages. He testified that he earned $295,000 in 2020.
He said that while he was still an independent contractor, Day and Kranz coaxed him into joining a subteam at Properties of The Villages called, “The Elite Sales Team.”
He said it “didn’t work out” and the subteam dissolved.
While on the stand Harding took a direct shot at Kranz, calling him, “One of the most manipulative individuals I’ve ever met.”
The plaintiff’s lead attorney, John Lauro a Fox News legal analyst, has indicated to Judge James Moody that he hopes to wrap up his case by noon Wednesday. That will give the defense team a chance to make its case in the bench trial.
Moody was nominated for a seat on the federal bench in 2000 by President Bill Clinton. Moody’s daughter, Ashley, is the Florida attorney general.