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Orlando family loses more than $1 million intended for daughter with cerebral palsy

ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orlando family is one of 1,500 victims missing millions of dollars, according to court documents.

Management of a St. Petersburg trust company that manages funds for the disabled said the founder received $100 million in unauthorized payments from the foundation, according to court filings.

The Florida Attorney General's Office told News 6 it is aware of the situation and appropriate investigators have been notified.

The Center for Special Needs Trust Administration filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February.

Carol Mulholland said that's how she found out her daughter's money was missing.

“Oh, it was a hammer blow,” Mulholland said. “It was like a punch in the gut that just took your breath away.”

“At first it was shock, then stress and fear of the unknown, the uncertainty,” Mulholland added.

The insecurity affects her daughter. News 6 profiled Jordan in 2018 when the family said the then-16-year-old was so happy to be going back to school that she cried every morning when the bus arrived.

Jordan has cerebral palsy and will be disabled for the rest of her life. She was born 19 weeks premature and the family sued the doctor on her behalf for medical malpractice.

“It took 11 years to get it to trial,” Mulholland said. “We were the oldest case on file at that point and then it took another 11 years to even collect the money.”

Two years ago, they transferred more than $1 million to the Center for Special Needs Trust Administration, which manages trust funds that are often funded by settlements like Jordan's or recoveries from catastrophic personal injury lawsuits, according to court records.

Their settlement lawyers referred the family to the Center for Special Needs Trust Administration, Mulholland said.

According to the bankruptcy filing, the nonprofit's management recently discovered that “between 2009 and 2020, approximately $100 million in funds under the Center's control were disbursed as loans,” the bankruptcy filing states.

“The alleged loan was made to Boston Finance Group, a company controlled by the center’s founder, Leo Govoni,” the filing states.

“The Center was unable to locate any documents indicating that a loan was ever approved by the Center or its board,” the filing said.

“These are some of the most vulnerable people to be exploited and stolen from. And that’s exactly what it is: exploitation of vulnerable adults,” Mulholland said.

Mulholland said when she called and checked the status of Jordan's account, the balance was zero.

Govoni is affiliated with numerous Florida companies.

As the money was withdrawn from the center, he also made hundreds of thousands of dollars in political donations, including a one-time donation of nearly $34,000 to Rick Scott and a $31,000 donation to the Republican Party, records show.

“I just hope that if there is a place deeper than hell, he goes there,” Mulholland said.

Multiple victims have filed a class action lawsuit against Govoni and his company, Boston Financial Group.

News 6 contacted Govoni's office multiple times by phone call and email and received no response.

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Anna Harden

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