State attorney general watching St. Pete special needs trust’s bankruptcy, accusations founder took $100M

TAMPA, Fla.As a federal court appointed a committee of families impacted by the bankruptcy of a special needs trust fund company in St. Petersburg, the Florida Attorney General’s office confirmed it’s keeping an eye on the case.

In a court filing this week, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Tampa named a creditors committee, tasked with following the Center for Special Needs Trust Administration’s bankruptcy case and representing all the families potentially impacted by the situation.

“It just gives us all of a voice and allows us to represent all of the beneficiaries and give them a voice,” said Carol Mulholland, an Orlando mother who is among those appointed to the committee.

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The Florida Attorney General’s office, meanwhile, told FOX 13 in a statement that it is following the case, adding, “we are aware, and the appropriate investigative agencies have been notified. We cannot comment further at this time.”

Several families, including Mulholland’s, have said they’ve contacted the FBI.

Last month, the Center filed for bankruptcy, accusing its founder, Leo Govoni, of taking $100 million in unapproved loans from 2009 through 2020, with no intention of paying them back. class action lawsuit filed last week by one of the impacted families;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas” class=”link rapid-noclick-resp”>A separate class action lawsuit filed last week by one of the impacted families indicated more than 1,500 clients’ accounts were compromised, with many of them either partially or entirely drained of their funds.

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Mulholland said the account belonging to her daughter, Jordan, was supposed to have more than $936,000 in it, but she learned it currently has a zero balance.

“I’m disgusted. I’m ready to fight whatever that looks like. We’re ready to battle it out for the return of all the funds by any means necessary,” she said.

Mulholland sued for medical malpractice after her daughter, who is now 20, was born prematurely. She ended up with cerebral palsy, severe seizures and development delays.

READ: Special needs trust fund company files for bankruptcy, founder accused of taking $100M

The family settled out of court, but waited 20 years to receive any payments and, in 2022, deposited more than $1 million into the Center for safe keeping. The funds were meant to be used for medical care, treatments, transportation, along with other necessities – and were supposed last Jordan’s entire life.

“It was drained to zero, didn’t even leave her with a dime,” Mulholland said. “The next thing [was] all those questions go through your mind. Is it just gone forever? Will we ever recover anything?”

In the bankruptcy filing, the Center’s new leadership accused Govoni of having the loans issued to his company, Boston Finance Group. The filing goes on to accuse Govoni, who, according to state business records, owns or manages dozens of companies, of placing several of his businesses in charge of the Center’s accounting, finances and IT department, helping him hide the loans.

Last week, another Florida family filed a class action lawsuit against Govoni, Boston Finance Group and several of his business partners.

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“This is the most vulnerable group of people you could possibly take from. There’s strict legislation in place about exploiting vulnerable people,” Mulholland said. “My daughter lives with us and relies on us for every single thing, every day of her life, and some of the beneficiaries of special needs trust don’t have families or anyone else to support them. So what happens to them?”

Mulholland also questions how her daughter’s funds were impacted in 2022, when the Center claims the alleged misappropriation ended in 2020.

In a statement to FOX 13, a spokesperson for the Center said:

“Under the supervision of the Bankruptcy Court, the current leadership of the Center is continuing to investigate issues that may impact the Trusts we are administering. It is a primary goal to pursue recovery of assets from the culpable parties as quickly [as] possible.”

Govoni, meanwhile, has not responded to several recent attempts by FOX 13 to contact him, including a text and email on Tuesday.

In a previous statement he wrote, “I dispute the allegations and characterizations in the filings of the Center as to the mishandling of any of the Center’s funds. I look forward to resolving this issue through the bankruptcy process or otherwise.”

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