• BBIF to appeal after judge's order to repay more than $1M in state funds


    ORLANDO, Fla. - After a judge ordered the Black Business Investment Fund to repay the state more than $1 million, the organization's vice president sat down with Channel 9's Lori Brown.

    The Black Business Investment Fund received $8.5 million from the state under former Governor Charlie Crist's economic incentive program.

    But the state sued BBIF in 2013, claiming the organization charged excessive fees and essentially kept money for itself, thwarting the purpose of making the funds available to Florida citizens. In a rare summary judgement, the BBIF was ordered to repay taxpayers more than $1 million.

    The organization's vice president, Duane Lewis, said they plan to appeal the judge's ruling.

    "The organization took direction from the state on how to calculate those fees. That's why we are in the situation we are in," said Lewis.

    BBIF maintains it was entitled to charge the state fees for administering the loan program that were a dozen times higher than what's permitted.

    "That half million dollars were servicing fees the organization was entitled to," said Lewis.

    BBIF's most recent available tax form shows it receives half of its funding from government grants, including $300,000 combined from Orlando and Orange County.

    In a memo issued Tuesday, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs expressed concern and asked BBIF to make a presentation before it hands out its 2015 grants.

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    BBIF to appeal after judge's order to repay more than $1M in state funds