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‘Businesswoman of the Year’ finalist skips on workers comp premiums

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Unpaid wages and $627,000 in unpaid workers compensation premiums aren’t the cornerstones for business awards. 

But those are the allegations against a Tampa, Florida, businesswoman and 2015 finalist for Tampa Bay Business Journal’s 2015 Businesswoman of the Year competition, according to media reports on a lawsuit filed earlier this month.

Lisa Dianne Bythewood and her husband, Craig Bythewood, a professor of finance who calls himself the “Finance Doctor,” own the VHU Express courier company, which “grew substantially” after it contracted with Amazon.com to deliver packages in South Florida, Boston and other regions, according to media reports.

The Tampa Bay Business Journal named Ms. Bythewood, VHU’s president and CEO, as one of the finalists in its 2015 Businesswoman of the Year competition in the “Entrepreneur” category. She eventually won the “Roar” award for her service, according to media reports. She has also published a Christian-living book in 2011 called “Waiting on the Promise.”

Meanwhile, San Diego-based Insurance Company of the West, a subsidiary of ICW Group, claims they have been waiting to get paid. The insurer is now suing the pair, claiming they have not paid the workers comp premiums associated with their company.

Further investigation by the Boston Business Journal found that the pair had also not paid their workers from December 2015 to February 2016. The Massachusetts attorney general fined VHU more than $80,000 in 2016 for violating the state’s wage law, according to the newspaper.