Miami Gardens pastor threatens to sue those who've spoken against him
Rev. Eric Readon intends to sue those who appeared in Local 10 News stories
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Edward Fuller holds a letter in his hand and looks at it in disbelief.
"He's saying that I slandered him," Fuller told Local 10 News investigative reporter Jeff Weinsier.
The letter is from the Rev. Eric Readon, who is coming after the 70-year-old man for defamation.
"This man took everything I had, the most valuable thing in my life, (and) now he wants to try to come get some more. What kind of person does that?" Fuller said.
In May, Local 10 News reported that Fuller claimed Readon stole his dream home from under him.
Fuller bought a property in northwest Miami-Dade County in 1984, and after a 35-year career with the U.S. Postal Service, his retirement project was to build a house for his family.
But when he ran out of money, Fuller said Readon, whom he'd never met before, pulled up and offered to get him loans.
Fuller admits signing over the property to Readon to get the money to finish the project, but there was always a promise.
"'I promise you man, you're going to get your house back.' This is what he told me," Fuller said in an interview in May.
Fuller said that he only found out Readon sold the house for $380,000 after he did a property search. Fuller said he didn't get a cent from the sale.
"I said, 'Eric, you sold my house,'" Fuller said in May. "And he said, 'I got my own personal money tied up in this house and I can't lose my money.'"
Recently, Fuller said that he stands by the statements he made in May about Readon.
"I have documents to show that he took my house," he said.
After the Local 10 News story ran, Fuller hired an attorney and plans on suing Readon for taking the house.
"This is just to try to frighten me or try to keep me from talking because, just like I said, they called me to find out what they could do, in fact, for me not to go forward with the suit," Fuller said. "I told them that it was a little bit too late."
Latisha Blue was also in the May Local 10 News story and was also sent a letter from Readon threatening to sue for defamation.
Blue said she gave Readon money orders totaling $3,000 as a down payment for a Mercedes-Benz that Readon was selling.
She said the pastor has her money and that she never got the car.
"He did steal money," Blue said.
Blue has filed suit against the pastor to get her money back.
"He'll shut me up when he gives me my $3,000, plus my interest. That will shut me up," Blue said.
Derrick Andrews had a different approach to the letter from Readon. He simply crumpled it up.
" For you, Eric," he said while crumpling the paper. "That's what it is. That's what it means to me."
In May, Andrews said he loaned Readon $4,000 to pay for rappers to come to Miami Gardens for an event.
Andrews showed Local 10 News texts he got from Readon wanting more time to pay him back. It never happened.
Readon is the pastor at New Beginnings Missionary Baptist Church in Miami Gardens.
He sped away from Local 10 News cameras in May and has refused to sit down and answer questions since then.
"The key issue in defamation is that you have to prove that someone said or published something false about you that injures your reputation," University of Miami media law professor Sam Terilli said.
Because Readon is a public figure, Terilli said he has to prove the statements made against him were not only false, but that "they were reckless, that they didn't care if it was true or false, that they actually lied about this."
"That's an extraordinarily difficult burden of proof," Terilli said.
The people featured in the Local 10 News stories said they are not worried.
"No regrets whatsoever," Fuller said.
Andrews said the letter will "never" stop him from talking.
"If I was lying, then maybe I can be afraid, but everything that I'm saying happened."
Readon has also filed a lawsuit against WPLG. He wants $12.5 million because he said Local 10 News damaged his reputation.
Local 10 News has asked repeatedly for Readon to sit down for an interview to say what he thinks is inaccurate about the station's reporting.
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