Former H.O.W. Exec Charged With Defrauding Foundation Of $1.3M

Wednesday, June 13th 2012, 5:35 pm
By: News On 6

The executive director of a foundation that helps men recover from substance abuse was charged in a federal court Tuesday with defrauding the H.O.W. Foundation of more than a million dollars.

That money, his lawyer says, fueled a gambling addiction.

Wesley Scott McGinness, 65, was the executive director of H.O.W. for more than ten years.

McGinness is now facing charges in federal court, accused of taking at least $1.3 million from the non-profit.

Court records state that from January 2003 to December 2010, Wesley Scott McGuiness started drawing money from the foundation's accounts.

Court documents filed last year say McGuiness used stolen money to pay his personal credit card debt he accrued from his own personal addiction.

"It was in my estimation a result of his long term addictions including gambling," said Mark Lyons, the attorney for McGinness. "It's just a very, very unfortunate situation. He's exceedingly, exceedingly remorseful about it."

The H.O.W. Foundation is a nonprofit that operates a recovery center for men suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. While in treatment, the men live at the center and work as laborers.

Documents state McGinness was in control of the money earned or received by the foundation.

The suit says the current executive director, Ollie Treat, discovered the fraud while transitioning to that position. Treat discovered checks written from the foundation's account to McGinness's personal credit cards he got at local casinos.

He also found that, for years, McGinness hadn't deposited any cash the Foundation earned, causing a loss to H.O.W. of more than $1.3 million.

McGinness was immediately terminated from his position.

"Mr. McGinness immediately disclosed what he knew about it, disclosed all the facts he knew about it," said Lyons. "He didn't try to hide from authorities and cooperated fully."

McGinness's attorney says his client is a well liked and well respected person-- one who received a bronze star as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam

He says people will be shocked to find out about the fraud and addiction.

Lyons said, "There's two very different sides to Scott McGinness. One is the side that fought for his country. He was obviously very brave and gallant. Then there is the other side where he did a lot of wrong here."

Lyons says McGinness entered a guilty plea.