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Whistleblower suit against nonprofit housing group claims improper business dealings

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A former employee of the Tampa Bay Community Development Corp. is suing his former employer for losses after he was fired. Christopher Brooks was an attorney and vice president for TBCDC up until he was terminated for bringing up what he describes as violations of federal and state laws and regulations.

Brooks is seeking compensation under Florida’s Whistleblower statute.

According to lawsuit documents, Brooks was told he was being groomed for president by former president Robert Kinney and then-chairman David Jones. That was before Brooks noticed some things out of sorts.

According to his lawsuit, another TBCDC vice president, Carrie Vitale, was “improperly” directing business to Jones and then-board member Linda Kemp. Kemp worked as a mortgage consultant for Raymond James. It’s unclear what business endeavor Jones had that would have benefited from ties to TBCDC.

Brooks took the matter to Jones and was “promptly” fired.

Since his firing, Kinney is no longer affiliated with TBCDC. He was replaced by Jones, who was then replaced by Kemp. That means the two people who allegedly benefited from improper business dealings are now the same two people holding the top positions within the company.

TBCDC is a company that encourages home ownership for low- income people through affordable housing, down payment assistance and counseling. They also offer foreclosure relief.

This lawsuit isn’t the first time the company has been part of a scandal. A former vice president, William Sanchez, was determined to be an ex-felon convicted for “swindling hundreds of investors out of millions of dollars.

The Brooks lawsuit was filed in Pinellas County Court on July 13.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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