Navarre Beach chamber settles lawsuit

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JENNIE McKEON @JennieMnwfdn

NAVARRE — The lawsuit between Navarre Area Chamber of Commerce and Beach Community Bank President & CEO Tony Hughes has been settled.

In May 2016, Hughes filed a defamation lawsuit against the chamber and its former CEO, Judy Morehead. The legal complaint alleges Morehead made false claims at a chamber board meeting that Hughes had taken money out of the NBACC’s Military Affairs bank account, held the funds personally and had been forced to return them.

In a letter dated March 29, 2018, the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce disavowed the statements.

“The statement was not approved by any member of the Chamber’s Executive Board before it was read by the former President and CEO, nor was it printed in the Chamber’s minutes,” the letter said. “We look forward to putting any disagreements behind us and moving forward to serve Navarre.”

The letter was signed by the current chamber president, Tamara Fountain, who took the job in August 2017.

Hughes also received a monetary settlement, which was not released.

The lawsuit was a first in series of changes for the chamber in the past two years. In July 2016, Hughes was expelled from the chamber. One month later, a second chamber was formed called the Greater Navarre Area Chamber of Commerce, where Hughes is a charter member. In June 2017, Morehead resigned from NBACC.

Although it took nearly two years, Hughes said he’s pleased the lawsuit is settled.

“Sadly, tens of thousands of dollars of attorney fees were spent by both sides in this dispute and there is no telling how many wasted, nonproductive hours were spent dealing with the false and damaging statements made about me,” he said in statement. “Thankfully, the chamber has finally disavowed those statements and has apologized. I accept their apology.”

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