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Young Released on $50,000 Bond on Fraud and Grand Theft Charges

Young Still Listed as CFO in State of Florida Records

Lake Wales business incubator CFO Charles Young Jr. was released Friday from Polk County Jail after posting bond on two first-degree felony charges. Young was arrested last Saturday morning at a residence in Lithia in Hillsborough County following an investigation of a complaint filed last year by his business partners.

Young was a partner in Florida Development Corp LLC, which entered into a $1.2 million no-recourse contract with the City of Lake Wales in 2022 for the operation of the business incubator at 225 Lincoln Avenue. Young has been charged with obtaining property by fraud, grand theft, $50,000, and a second count of grand theft of $100,000 or more. Both counts are first-degree felonies. bond on each count was set at $25,000,

At Young's first appearance hearing, the judge ordered that Young have no contact with any officer or employee of FDC and remain at least 500 feet from them at all times. His attorney, Patricia Dawson, told the judge that Young resides in Hillsborough County, and should have no problem avoiding that contact.

Courtesy PCSO

Charles Young's booking photo provided by the Polk County Sheriff's Office. Young was released on $50,000 bond to return to his residence in Hillsborough County, forbidden to have any contact with officers or employees of Florida Development Corp.

Young was removed as the CFO of the Florida Development Corp, a for-profit company, in a filing with the Florida Division of Corporations on October 23, in which his former partners, Derrick Blue and Efrain Cornier, were shown as the COO and CEO respectively.

Young remains listed as the chief financial officer of BizLinc LLC and The Lincubator, LLC, both also based at 225 Lincoln Avenue in Lake Wales. Those businesses were formed after FDC obtained the contract with the city. The purpose of the two companies remains unclear.

Lake Wales News had raised questions about the BizLinc operations in February after a public records request for the quarterly reports called for in the contract with the city produced only a single-page spread sheet document without financial reports.

The contract with the city was based on FDC's offer to the city. No other proposals were considered at the time. The contract was signed by Mayor Jack Hilligoss for the city, and Cornier as president of FDC, but there were no personal guarantees attached, and little descriptive language relating to the details of operations, required objectives, or reporting of financials during the contract. Cornier did not use his legal name in signing the contract.

No financial statements were presented to the city during the 18 months of the contract, during which time FDC drew payments of $500,000 and $400,000 from city coffers.

The funds utilized in the FDC payments were part of the city's share of the federal Economic Recovery Act monies that had initially been reserved for use to pay the city's share of the Polk Regional Water Cooperative exploration of the Lower Floridan Aquifer, expected to eventually cost the city as much as $100 million.


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