St. Petersburg Times Online: Business
 Devil Rays Forums

printer version

Former chamber chief hires attorney

Vincent Hopkins, formerly of the St. Petersburg Area Black Chamber of Commerce, has hired a criminal lawyer.


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 26, 2000

ST. PETERSBURG -- The former executive director of the St. Petersburg Area Black Chamber of Commerce has hired a criminal lawyer after renewed charges by chamber officials that he misused the group's money.

Vincent Hopkins, who already was using Johnson Blakely Pope Bokor Ruppel & Burns on civil matters involving his relationship with the chamber, last week hired Clearwater attorney Denis deVlaming for his criminal expertise.

"We'll be in contact with the authorities to provide" records that show Hopkins handled chamber money correctly, deVlaming said.

Hopkins' hiring of a criminal attorney followed a chamber meeting last week in which the group severed all ties with him. The chamber voted to go to the state attorney if the group's attorney and auditor recommend such an action after an audit of the chamber's 1999 finances is completed.

Chamber officials, including board chairman Darryl E. Rouson, were angered that Hopkins billed them for $8,975, which Hopkins said he spent out of his own pocket to pay chamber bills.

Hopkins helped start the black chamber last year. As part-time executive director, he said he co-mingled funds, using his own money to pay bills when the chamber's bank account was empty. He repaid himself when the chamber had money. Such action is common in the first months of new groups, Hopkins said.

Hopkins said he was advised by accountant Don Collins to stop co-mingling his money and the chamber's, so he did. Collins now is the chamber's treasurer.

"Everything I have done I can verify and document," Hopkins said.

DeVlaming, who was part of the defense team for the Rev. Henry J. Lyons, said Hopkins did not want anything to harm the chamber.

The group has ambitious goals for its second year and has received a $50,000 grant from the city of St. Petersburg. The agenda for this year includes getting a minority-owned company to locate here, bringing a national firm's convention here and assisting at least 100 businesses.

In the midst of this dispute with Hopkins, the chamber is looking for a full-time executive director.

Back to Tampa Bay area news

Back to Top
© St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.

  • Its glory days gone, Faith Temple will fall
  • Dispute arises over proposed bus link
  • Sewage rate showdown is this week
  • Maximo Plaza merchants keep faith
  • Downtown leader 'phasing out' role
  • Big bills in pipeline for private landowners?
  • Calls on water restrictions pour in
  • Front Porch Florida earns applause
  • Former chamber chief hires attorney
  • City may pursue cosmetics company
  • Bayview Hotel set again for a new life
  • Home for severely mentally ill opens
  • Planning to pack the pews
  • 'Pop' culture includes art with, yes, balloons
  • Kenneth City picks vice mayor
  • Add safety to your child's activity list
  • Bus shelters lead to hazardous jaywalking
  • Pinellas Park settles sexual bias lawsuit
  • Talk of skate park, dog park on agenda
  • A look back at column; a step forth for writer
  • Florida Craftsmen wants to buy building
  • Pinellas Park gets a look at Wal-Mart plans
  • St. Petersburg residents divided over club's music
  • Wells to test brackish water levels
  • Two ready for special election