Lawsuits dropped against Tampa CEO accused abusing funds

The CEO of a health care app was accused of spending $400,000 in startup funds on escorts, alcohol and takeout dinners.
[ Photo illustration by ASHLEY DYE and MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Feb. 22, 2021

TAMPA — The lawsuits accusing a health care app CEO of spending company money on escorts and alcohol have been dropped.

ECover CEO Raymond “Ben” Sever and his former best friend and business partner, Brandon Bowen, agreed to mediation in January, according to court records. Shortly after, the lawsuits against Sever and his company, ECover Global, were dropped.

“These past months have been arduous and difficult for me, my family, and my company,” Sever said in a statement. “After retaining outside counsel to remedy the legal issues I faced, I am thankful that my name has been restored and the lawsuits have been dismissed with prejudice. Despite recent events, Ecover Global continues to thrive.”

Related: Tampa CEO accused of using startup funds on escorts pushes back

Ecover, a Tampa-based startup, allows doctors to message with patients. Last year, Sever told investors at a startup pitch event he had already raised $700,000 and that his company was evaluated to be worth $35 million.

Bowen said in his lawsuit he was fired from his role at the company after he confronted Sever about his spending habits. Sever argued the allegations came up only after his former roommate was already fired.

Bowen’s attorney did not return a request for comment.

Bowen filed one lawsuit in June and another in September that both accused of Sever of using company money as a “personal piggy bank,” according to court records. Bowen, who had a minority stake in the company, accused Sever of misspending upward of $400,000 on alcohol, escorts, takeout food and ride-share apps.

Sever says the money was spent on networking with prospective investors and partners and denied any wrongdoing.

The case dismissal specifies that Bowen will not be able to refile either of the lawsuits. Both parties also agreed to pay their own legal fees.