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BizLinc, Florida Development Corp Financial Officer Arrested, Charged With Grand Theft, Fraud

Charles Young Serves as Director of Florida Development Corp, Operator of City's Business Incubator

Charles Young, the chief financial officer of the BizLinc business incubator in Lake Wales, has been arrested at a residence in Lithia in Hillsborough County on an active Polk County warrant, Lake Wales News has confirmed through multiple sources.

Courtesy Hillsborough County Jail

BizLinc CFO Charles Young was being held awaiting transfer to Polk County on a warrant charging him with two felonies.

Available online information shows that Young has been charged with grand theft of $100,000 or more, and a second count of obtaining property by fraud, grand theft, $50,000. After his arrest on Saturday morning, he was transferred to the Orient Road jail and held without bond to await transfer to Polk County.

Young is a partner, along with Derrek Blue and Efrain Cornier, in Florida Development Corp. LLC, which has a $1.2 million no-recourse contract with the City of Lake Wales for the operation of the business incubator at 225 Lincoln Avenue. The officers of that corporation then created BizLinc LLC, apparently to run the operation. As of Monday, the "about" page of the FDC website has been removed.

Screenshot from Young's website

On his website for Young & Sons Tax and Accounting, Charles Young made several claims that could not be confirmed. A spokesperson for Coopers Lybrand, a major accounting firm, was unable to confirm that he had worked there. His claim of being the former "Director of Finance for Atlanta Airport" was revealed to have been a role running an airport vending-machine operation, according to a News investigation. The News was also unable to substantiate his claim that he was a licensed CPA, as he was not registered as such with the State of Florida.

Without seeing the underlying affidavit, Lake Wales News cannot report with certainty that these charges are related to the Lake Wales BizLinc venture. The News intends to supplement this story once the underlying affidavit narrative is available.

Young, 54, is also the controller of Young & Sons Tax and Accounting, which operates from the BizLinc location and serves as registered agent of the operation, as well as multiple other associated businesses.

From the FDC website

Charles Young served as an officer of Florida Development Corp and as the registered agent and CFO of BizLinc. BizLinc was listed as the registered agent of FDC.

Young's past criminal record is not extensive and according to State of Florida records includes the use of an out-of-state drivers license when his own was suspended in 2018 and an arrest for "unlawful acts as a precursor to prostitution" in 2020.

Lake Wales News raised multiple questions about the operation of the incubator in a story published in February. That resulted in a furious defense of the operation from Lake Wales Mayor Jack Hilligoss, who referred to the report and a news reporter as "wicked."

City Manager James Slaton subsequently retained Carr Riggs and Ingram, a private CPA firm, to conduct an audit of the incubator. Attempts to gain comment from the auditing firm have thus far been unsuccessful.

The News has also reached out to Slaton for comment, but he declined, saying only that .the city would be issuing a press release regarding the matter in the near future.


Reader Comments(1)

Nonanita writes:

The City of Lake Wales Commissioners who were in office in February when this paper published the probing article about Bizlinc, owe an apology to Robert Connors and, since his investigative reporting brought many questions about BizLinc to the forefront. The Commissioners and Mr. Slaton also owe an apology to the community members who questioned the operations of BizLinc at that time as a result of the probing article. It is clear now, that the use of BizLinc's funds were under investigation at the same time that the commissioners were defending the incubator. It is hard to imagine that none of them were aware of that fact that the incubator's finances were suspect and yet they cast dispersions on anyone who demanded more transparency in the incubator's operations and expenditures.

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