Former United Way Chair Charged In Theft

The hits keep coming for the organization formerly known as Santa Rosa County United Way. This time its former volunteer board chair was arrested for alleged embezzlement.

David Willhoit was arrested by the Milton (Florida) Police Department. He was charged with grand theft after he allegedly made two unauthorized withdrawals from the charity’s bank account totaling $3,200 on March 9 and March 11.

The organization, now called First Call for Help of Santa Rosa, was reportedly alerted by its bank of unusual withdrawals and acting administrator Kyle Holley called police. The first withdrawal occurred six days after United Way Worldwide pulled the organization’s affiliation agreement.

Willhoit allegedly told police he had withdrawn the money to pay a private investigator and attorney for the organization, although such deals were not approved by the organization’s board.

He’s not the first person from the organization to land in hot water. Former executive director, Guy Thompson, was fired this past October after an internal audit and a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigation into the organization’s finances. Both investigations are ongoing. Thompson had been with the organization two decades and was mayor of Milton for 20 years

Last week the organization announced all money from payroll deductions it received during 2019 will be returned to donors. Holley announced, “The board has directed me to give back the donations.” Holley has been the organization’s major gifts manager. Payroll deductions also will be stopped as officials contact local employers regarding the situation of the Milton, Fla., organization.

The last available federal Form 990, filed for 2016, total revenue of $299,182 with an operating deficit of $187,208. The Form 990 showed an increase in salary expense of $50,000 during the period. Total revenue for the prior year was $597,473 for a decline of 49.9 percent.

Local media had quoted Willhoit as saying the board voted to continue to operate “to do as much good in the community as possible for as long as possible. The idea is to stay operational in hopes of financial restitution which would be distributed to community organizations.

The FBI seized financial records of the organization back in October 2018. The board started an audit, citing possible irregularities involving donations. Details of why the organization was raided by the FBI have not yet been made public. No charges have been filed related to that ongoing investigation.