FLORIDA: Former Mayor Pleads Guilty to Embezzling from Charity

Photo: Guyland Thompson, Former Mayor of Milton, Florida and Executive Director of Santa Rosa County United Way

By Ben Robinson

On January 17, the former Mayor of Milton, Florida and United Way executive director Guyland Thompson was sentenced to prison for 51 months for 20 counts of wire fraud and three additional counts of tax evasion. He had embezzled at least $652,000 from United Way, a coalition of non-profit charities, forcing the closure of the branch he oversaw.

As the director of the Santa Rosa County branch of United Way, Thompson was able to hide his theft by performing complex check transactions and relying on trust he had built up over the course of years. The fraud between 2011 and 2018 has been confirmed, however it very well may have extended beyond that time period as the bank records are only kept for seven years. His term as mayor ended in 2014 and he had a community center named in his honor in 2015, both overlapping with the timeline of confirmed fraud.

Along with the false promises of politicians, nonprofits like United Way serve an important role in the counterinsurgency strategy of US imperialism, offering scraps to smooth over the contradictions of capitalism that leave countless working-class families poor and in need.

Thompson had a community center in Milton named in his honor

Thompson spent the embezzled funds on luxuries, including a beach condo and a BMW. Although he claimed he was “sorry” during the trial, Thompson sold the condo and attempted to hide the money from authorities in his wife’s bank account once it was clear he had been caught. Despite this, his defense tried to play him off as a depressed, aging man who was pressured by “big spenders” in his family.

One Milton resident said that “people’s confidence in elected officials took a big nosedive,” and that this confidence will “probably never recover.”

Milton residents are justified in having no faith in politicians who do not and cannot serve the people, only the bourgeois ruling class. It is likely that Thompson was only caught in this embezzlement scheme due to his failure to pay taxes on the nearly $100,000 in extra income he received on a yearly basis. The state may sometimes punish egregious examples of corruption like Thompson, but this is little more than an attempt to restore people’s faith in bourgeois politics, which is diminishing more and more every day.

Thompson is not a bad apple, the whole system is rotten to its core. Faith in elected officials is always misplaced, and as US imperialism continues to face deepening crisis, the people will only see more evidence of this and turn away from the electoral sham, joining the revolutionary call to boycott the bourgeois elections.