by Merritt Clifton
(From Animal People, October 1997)
Former Humane Society of the U.S. vice president David Wills on August 22 filed for personal bankruptcy. Among his 17 listed creditors were HSUS, which in October 1995 fired Wills and later sued him for allegedly misappropriating $93,000; John Hoyt, president of HSUS and Humane Society International from 1970 until last year, who is believed to have personally loaned Wills money; Sandra LeBost, of Royal Oak, Michigan, to whom Wills agreed in June 1995 to pay $42,500 in restitution and damages for nonrepayment of loans; and William and Judith McBride, also of Royal Oak, Michigan, who are believed to have reached an out-of-court settlement with Wills in a similar case involving alleged failure to repay a loan of $20,000.
Horse thief too?
(From Animal People, April 1998)
WASHINGTON, D.C.––Former Humane Society of the U.S. vice president of investigations David Wills not only allegedly misappropriated as much as $211,000 from HSUS but is also a deadbeat dad and, in effect, a horse thief, charges an objection to Wills application for Chapter 13 bankruptcy filed on January 30, 1998 by HSUS counsel Robert Plotkin.
“Wills,” wrote Plotkin, “admitted that a paternity judgement was obtained against him by the State of Washington on behalf of a child Wills fathered with a woman who was not his wife…In calculating his personal expense obligations, to shelter assets and income under the bankruptcy filing, Wills listed a current $471 per month in child support payments. Those payments…have never been made. Attached exhibits indicate Wills may be $7,000 in arrears on the payments.”
Arguing that Wills filed for bankruptcy to evade obligation to repay HSUS, Plotkin also detailed multiple instances of Wills contradicting himself in testimony about the value and ownership of costly possessions, some of which mght have been given to satisfy creditors. Perhaps most colorfully, Wills said he presented an Arabian horse worth as much as $3,000 to his wife, Lori J. White, when they were married in May 1995, but could produce no record that the title was actually transferred before September 1996––well after HSUS and other creditors began pressing him for repayment. Several of Wills creditors are familiar with and fond of the horse in question.
HSUS fired Wills in 1995 after the alleged misappropriation surfaced in a lawsuit two staffers filed against him for alleged sexual harassment. Their suit purported that Wills had sexually assaulted at least 13 women. That case was reportedly settled out of court in mid-1997.
Wills in 1972 became director of the Nashua Humane Society at the personal urging of John Hoyt, HSUS president 1970-1996. Wills left NHS to head the Michigan Humane Society in 1979, just before the NHS board discovered funds were missing. He resigned from MHS in June 1989, when the MHS board found an unexplained $1.6 million deficit. Bookkeeper Denise Hopkins was later convicted of embezzling $60,000, leaving the rest unaccounted for. Wills then formed the National Society for Animal Protection, but folded it in 1991 to join HSUS.
Wills bankruptcy petition lists as his largest debt $42,500 owed to former NSAP volunteer Sandra LeBost. LeBost won the amount in a June 1995 Michigan verdict against Wills for allegedly not repaying loans and not returning her father s gold watch, which he had also borrowed.
Ex-HSUS VP Wills cops a plea
(From Animal People, July/August 1999)
Former Humane Society of the U.S. vice president for investigations David Wills, 46, of Dickerson, Maryland, on June 16 pleaded guilty to one count of embezzling $18,900 from HSUS between 1990 and mid-1995; agreed to pay restitution of $67,800 to HSUS; and accepted a six-month jail sentence, reportedly to be imposed after judicial review on August 5. HSUS and the State of Maryland agreeed to drop six other counts of embezzlement, alleging thefts of $84,128.
Wills was the longtime personal protege of John A. Hoyt, HSUS president 1970-1996, and now president emeritus. Hired in 1972 to head the New Hampshire Humane Society, in Nashua, at Hoyt’s recommendation, Wills reportedly left in 1978 just before the board discovered funds were missing. Hoyt then recommended Wills to the Michigan Humane Society, where he was executive director, 1979-1989. Wills resigned from MHS when the board began inquiring into the disappearance of $1.6 million. A bookkeeper, Denise Hopkins, was eventually convicted of embezzling $56,000 of the missing sum. Wills next founded the National Society for Animal Protection, only to dissolve it when he joined HSUS.
Wills’ downfall began in June 1995 when Sandra LeBost of Royal Oak, Michigan, won a $42,500 judgement against him for non-repayment of loans he solicited in connection with starting NSAP. She has not yet been able to collect. In August 1995, three HSUS employees sued Wills for alleged sexual harrassment and embezzling. Suspended by HSUS soon afterward, Wills was fired in November 1995, after Animal People published three major exposes in as many editions, detailing his checkered history. Wills countersued the employees who sued him. Both suits were settled out of court in mid-1998, but HSUS then filed the case against Wills which is to be settled by the June 16 plea bargain.
Coincidentally, June 16 also brought the fraud conviction in Detroit of one of Wills close associates during his Michigan years, former pro hockey player and financier Dean Turner, 40. Turner, whose mother served on both the MHS and NSAP boards of directors, allegedly defrauded investors––including his mother––of as much as $14 million.