More unauthorized purchases from former Tourism Development Council Director Mark Bellinger, using tourist tax dollars have come to light.
Interim TDC Director Greg Donovan said an investigation has revealed numerous expenses made without permission."I presented to the council earlier this week a pretty detailed chart of all of the TDC operations. It included items that were a surprise to the council," said Donovan.
A few of these items include a lease for an Okaloosa County Welcome Center at more than $200,000 for five years.
It also includes a purchase of two high end custom motorcycles at nearly $60,000 a piece.
Donovan said Bellinger had listed the motorcycles as a marketing campaign but never got authorization to make the purchase.
"That's not the issue. I'm not trying to second guess marketing styles, it's about making sure we have the proper approvals," Donovan said.
A Dodge Durango was also purchased by Bellinger and Donovan said that purchase is still a mystery.
Bellinger, 52, resigned the post on May 3 amidst a controversy surrounding the misuse of tax dollars . He admitted to using $710,000 in tourist tax dollars to purchase a yacht.
Authorities also found evidence that Bellinger may have used more TDC funds to pay for a $747,000 Destin home.
Bellinger resigned from the post and then disappeared when news came out he may have misused funds.
He was found inside a vehicle on a dirt road after apparently committing suicide on May 4 in Pelham, Alabama.
I asked Donovan how Bellinger's alleged spendings weren't noticed or stopped.
"The communication's definitely could have been improved upon. One of the elements I brought up at the council meeting is a monthly expense report to show what we're spending on programs," said Donovan.
Donovan said neither the Board of County Commissioners or the Council were aware of Bellinger's purchases
"There's accountability, certainly on the part of the TDC. We will recover that money and put it towards good programs in the future," said Donovan.
Donovan says they have begun contacting the dealers of the motorcycles and the Durango to see if they will buy them back.
They also plan to sell the yacht in June.
A criminal investigation is still ongoing into Bellinger's Destin home.
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