Ex-Panhandle Tourism Official Commits Suicide

May 4, 2012

A missing ex-Florida tourism director accused of embezzling money, including funds from BP following the Gulf oil spill, has been found dead in Alabama. As Trimmel Gomes reports, the man took his own life after authorities launched an investigation into his financial dealings.

Mark Bellinger, was booted from his seat as Okaloosa County Tourist Development Director after he was accused of misusing public money.  Okaloosa County Public Information Officer Kathy Newby says Bellinger disappeared after admitting he used of tax dollars to pay for a $710,000  yacht and a similarly priced house.

“We have learned that he did commit suicide. We have been searching for him since late Thursday afternoon when he went missing and left a suicide note and they did find him today, around noon, in Pelham Alabama in his car and it looks like a drug overdose.”

Officials promise a thorough investigation into the use of bed tax money and BP oil money to see if there was any other misuse of funds.