DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) – Visit Dothan’s board of directors is breaking its silence after its president and CEO pleaded guilty to knowingly committing federal bank fraud.
This council said they were going to back their man and they wanted a confessed felon to continue overseeing a tourism organization that collects over a million dollars of taxpayers’ money.
Dothan Chairman and CEO Aaron McCreight could face up to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty on Thursday to federal bank fraud charges in Iowa.
On Friday, Dean Mitchell and Bill Durden, two members of Visit Dothan’s board of directors, said that although he had now admitted fraud in court, they still believed he was the right person for the job.
“Aaron is basically the Bryce Young of this industry,” Durden said.
Currently, the Visit Dothan board is backing McCreight, a confessed felon, and defending their decision to keep him on the stand.
“We are the board and we have oversight of it,” Mitchell said. “We have very close monitoring. We have all of these checks and balances in place that give us great confidence that a situation that happened in Iowa will not happen in Dothan.
What happened in Iowa was that McCreight tricked the bank into having a festival called Newbo Evolve, and told his CFO to fake the bank’s numbers.
In the end, the bank had lost $1.5 million and the sellers had not been paid $800,000. In court, he admitted knowingly committing the fraud.
However, Visit Dothan said the main reason they don’t think he could do such an act here is because Dothan doesn’t bring great acts.
“We don’t do events of this magnitude in this size,” Mitchell said. “We focus on sports and tournaments with our partners in Dothan town and our hotels. We don’t or ever have the interest of doing a large scale event where we have to go ahead and borrow money from a bank.
Visit Dothan’s board told WDHN they knew McCreight was fired from Go Cedar Rapids for the bank fraud incident, and they knew that before they hired him as president and chief executive officer. direction.
“I still stand by my statement that I made many years ago when we first hired him,” Durden said. “Iowa’s loss is Dothan’s gain.”
McCreight will remain free until his conviction, which means the organization will continue to pay McCreight with funds it receives, in part, from the City of Dothan and public taxes.
Visit Dothan receives 4% of the 9% accommodation tax that Dothan collects from visitors.
“I think if you look at Aaron’s track record, in terms of hotel revenue tournaments, sports facilities, tourism dollars, there’s no doubt that he’s the right person for the job,” he said. Mitchell said.
Visit Dothan also said that every invoice and check they receive, regardless of the amount, must be signed by two people and passed through a CPA company, with regular reviews of their finances.
WDHN has reached out to McCreight and his attorney multiple times for comment, but has yet to receive a response. In addition to decades in prison, McCreight could also face a $1 million fine and up to five years of supervised release after any jail time.