Vince Whibbs, Jr.
|Vince Whibbs, Jr.|
|Parents||Vince Whibbs, Sr.|
Vincent John Whibbs, Jr., known as Vinnie, is one of the seven children of Vince Whibbs, Sr. He was a prominent Pensacola attorney until it was revealed in October 2006 that he had misappropriated $683,827 in client trust funds for his personal investments. He was disbarred and sentenced to four years in prison.
Personal life & education
Whibbs received his undergraduate degree from the Springhill College in 1966. In 1968 he received his law degree from University of Florida. He served in the Marines' Judge Advocate General's Corps between 1968-1971.
1994 congressional candidacy
In 1994 Whibbs was the Democratic candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, District 1. Whibbs ran on a conservative platform and insisted he had "never voted for a Democrat," but could do more for the district as part of the Democratic majority. He was endorsed by outgoing Congressman Earl Hutto, despite Hutto's earlier assertion that he would not make an endorsement, but was defeated in the November 8 general election by Joe Scarborough. It was one of the 54 congressional seats picked up by Republicans that election season.
|•DEM||Vince Whibbs, Jr.||70,416 (38.4%)|
|•REP||Joe Scarborough||112,974 (61.6%)|
Law career & scandal
Whibbs was previously involved in the family's car dealership, Vince Whibbs Automotive, until he began a law firm with his son Donovan and daughter-in-law Suzanne called Whibbs & Whibbs (now Whibbs & Stone).
Starting around 2001, Whibbs began soliticiting investments for Asbury Place, a Gulf Breeze Alzheimer care facility, by convincing potential investors it was actually the existing Pensacola facility of the same name. When Stephen Solice, a fellow partner in the Gulf Breeze facility, noticed one of their business accounts had no money, he contacted Whibbs, who transferred $489,000 from his law firm's trust accounts.
Whibbs was able to conceal the misappropriations because only he and his wife Elizabeth had access to the trust accounts. Firm member Michael Rayboun recommended hiring a new bookkeeper, Christine Bilbrey, but was instructed by Vinnie to "keep her out of the books." When Bilbrey discovered the plundered trust accounts in December 2004, Whibbs blamed his wife and fired her from the firm. Later, Bilbrey's office "was ransacked," she testified. "Everything pertaining to the banking and accounting was stolen out of my office."
Another $500,000 went missing in 2005. Donovan Whibbs confronted his father, who again tried to blame poor bookkeeping before admitting he had invested the money in Asbury Place. The firm's shareholders immediately terminated Vince, removed him from all of the bank accounts, hired an independent accountant, and began replinishing the funds that Vince stole. Michael Rayboun reported Vince to the Florida Bar in December, 2005, which led to the prosecution that resulted in the prison term that Vince is currently serving. The Bar conducted a full audit of the firm and found that none of the attorneys, other than Vince, had participated in, or even known about Vince's criminal conduct.
When Whibbs failed to return a $150,000 investment made by Dan and Roberta Peppler, the couple contacted the State Attorney's Office, which began the investigation that revealed the scope of Whibbs's wrongdoings.
On October 5, 2006 Whibbs was disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court for five years and charged with two counts of grand theft of over $100,000 and another charge of mortgage fraud. On May 7, 2007, felony racketeering was added to the charges.
Whibbs pleaded no contest on July 3. On August 17, he was sentenced to four years in state prison by Circuit Court Judge Jan Shackelford. Witnesses for the prosecution at the sentencing hearing included Christine Bilbrey and Michael Rayboun. Whibbs's attorney, Barry Beroset, indicated he had no plans to appeal.
- Who is Joe Scarborough?
- "THE 1994 CAMPAIGN: THE SOUTH; Democrats Show Surprising Life in House Races." New York Times, October 25, 1994.
- "Whibbs Jr. sentenced." Pensacola News Journal, August 18, 2007.
- "Whibbs faces fourth charge." Pensacola News Journal, May 8, 2007.