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Clearwater oil-spill claims firm says employee embezzled $100,000, is holding data hostage

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Mark Bushee is in the oil spill claims business.

Since 2010, the 50-year-old from Clearwater Beach has served as operations manager of Stout Law Firm. Which partners with Winward Group LLC of St. Petersburg.

Together, they process oil spill claims on behalf of British Petroleum.

Winward Group and its St. Petersburg-based attorney, C. Byron Stout, 48, are alleging Bushee embezzled more than $100,000.

If that wasn’t enough, the group also claims the soon-to-be-former employee also stole a host of Stout Law’s office equipment, computers, passwords, customer databases and other critical intellectual property. It is also alleged that Bushee plans to use all this as leverage to threaten and extort money from Winward and Stout.

Not happy with this situation Winward seeks an injunction ordering Bushee to return the property, thought to be at his home; it prohibits him from contacting the firm’s clients or employees.

Allegedly, the stolen funds were used by Bushee to live the high life, which included an upgraded BMW, televisions, vacations, shows and other miscellaneous expenses.

According to Bushee’s LinkedIn profile, he is still employed at Stout Law as operations manager. The same profile also gives a glimpse into Bushee’s past, which doesn’t paint a pretty picture.

In 2014, Bushee was sued by the Florida attorney general’s office for deceptive business practices related to involvement in the foreclosure rescue business. He was fined $75,000, ordered to pay $25,000 in legal fees, and forbidden from working again in the foreclosure business.

To add insult to injury, the same year Bushee was subject to a lien from the IRS for more than $46,000 in unpaid personal income taxes.

In an intriguing twist, a January 2016 consent agreement with the Florida Bar shows Stout pleading guilty to failure to comply with certain laws regulating the mortgage modification business. However, there is no evidence that Stout or Bushee worked together in the industry.

As of press time, SaintPetersBlog could not reach Stout or Bushee, but did speak to Benjamin Hillard, the attorney representing Winward. Hillard said they have not received a response from Bushee regarding the suit as yet.

The case continues.

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