Former UW Exec Pleads Guilty To Scam

A July 29 sentencing date has been set for a former United Way executive who plead guilty to scamming the United Way of Santa Rosa County (UWSRC) out of at least $650,000 over a seven-year period.

Guyland W. Thompson, 65, a former Milton, Fla., mayor and ex-United Way of Santa Rosa County executive director, admitted to 20 counts of wire fraud and three counts of tax evasion in federal court in a case brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida. He remains free on bond pending the sentencing.

Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Each count of tax evasion carries a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to prosecutors, $211,000 has been seized from Thompson’s bank accounts. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicia Forbes is prosecuting the case after a joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS).

According to prosecutors, Thompson devised a complex scheme where he kept a portion of money intended for use to pay UWSRC’s regular bills and expenses by replacing it with other donation checks no one at the United Way agency knew about. By conducting a series of complicated financial transactions to cover his tracks, Thompson embezzled more than $650,000.

Thompson maintained his scheme by making fraudulent misrepresentations to United Way of Santa Rosa County board members and employees, United Way Worldwide and bank personnel, according to prosecutors. He took steps to prevent internal or external audits from occurring that would have uncovered his fraud. He also failed to report to the IRS the extra income from his embezzlement scheme, which ranged from approximately $86,000 to $99,000 a year.

Thompson was fired this past October after an internal audit and FBI investigation into the organization’s finances. He had been with the organization two decades and was mayor of Milton for 20 years. United Way Worldwide pulled the organization’s affiliation in March. The organization announced all money from payroll deductions it received during 2019 would be returned to donors.

The last available federal Form 990, filed for 2016, reported 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 – a decline of 50 percent.

United Way of Escambia County announced it would expand services into Santa Rosa County and the Milton City Council is considering a measure that would take Thompson’s name off the community center.