The Lance Corporal Skip Wells Foundation — honoring one of the victims of the Chattanooga shootings — is severing ties with a nonprofit that it had previously partnered with.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Skip Wells was among four Marines killed on July 16, 2015, when a terrorist opened fire at a military training facility.
The foundation in his name is now claiming that the founder of “Marines and Mickey” — an organization that is supposed to help family members with travel expenses to see their loved one graduate from USMC Boot Camp and also sends the families of Marines to Disney World — misappropriated $135,000. The two foundations reportedly held joint fundraisers last year.
John Simpson is the man behind the Marines and Mickey foundation. He raised about $35,000 through fundraising events last year and also received a $75,000 personal check “based on a promise to build a barber shop in Skip Wells’ name near a boot camp.” The Times Free Press reports that Simpson also received $25,000 from the Chattanooga Heroes Fund that Peyton Manning launched after the Chattanooga attack.
According to the Free Press, members of the Wells foundation say Simpson claims to be someone he is not. Simpson, who became close with the mother of Squire “Skip” Wells, in the days after his death, claimed he was a 20-year veteran of an elite Marine Corps reconnaissance unit that gathers information on enemies. However, two weeks ago, the co-chairman of the Wells Foundation said a contact in the Marines told him that Simpson was not a member of that unit.
On his website, Simpson accused members of the Wells organization of trying to “sully his reputation out of jealousy.” He also said that the members wanted to take over Marines and Mickey, but when he refused, they started to make up lies.
“This is nothing short of blackmail and extortion,” Simpson wrote. “Also, myself, My Foundation and its volunteers have been receiving threats via Facebook, emails, and phone calls.”
Friends say that Cpl. Wells’ mother, Cathy, started a foundation in her son’s name and also partnered with Simpson’s foundation because she and Skip visited Disney every year.
Last week, board members from the Wells’ foundation reportedly confronted Simpson at a Georgia restaurant. They asked for his organization’s financial records and for information about the families he has sent to Disney World. No word yet what Simpson’s response was to their questions.
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