Published May 04, 2012
| Associated Press
DESTIN, Fla. – Deputies are searching for a Florida county's tourism director who is accused of stealing $710,000 in taxpayers' money to buy a yacht.
Authorities say 52-year-old Mark Bellinger may also have used tourism money to buy a home. Bellinger resigned as the tourism director of Okaloosa County after acknowledging that he bought the yacht.
Sheriff's officials say he left a suicide note at his home.
Bellinger was hired at the Tourism Development Council in May 2010, just weeks after the BP oil spill. He may also have used county tourism council funds to buy his home.
The $747,000 home was purchased last August, according to property records. Okaloosa detectives say some of the money might have come from funds BP gave the tourism council following the spill.