We asked Darrell Nunnelley, from the "In God We Trust Foundation," where's the money?

8:57 AM, May 4, 2012   |    comments
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Windermere, Florida -- You would think you could trust an organization called, "In God We Trust," but the 10 News Investigators found out you can't.  

The foundation raises money by selling a specialty Florida license plate with the proceeds going to families of fallen military personnel and first responders. 

Photos: Darrell Nunnelley goes after the camera

Krista Colquhoun was one family member in need. "I was very desperate when I contacted him. Life insurance wasn't paying, federal benefits aren't paying, state benefits aren't paying. I mean, I'm desperate," Colquhoun told us from her Titusville home.

Her firefighter husband, Alan Colquhoun, was driving a Titusville fire truck on the way to a fire when it flipped. 

He broke his back and eventually died. 

Krista thought she would be eligible for help from the foundation, which gives funds to children and spouses of deceased first responders.

When she contacted the head of the foundation, Darrell Nunnelley, he told her in an email:  "Your biggest hurdle was age. Very few charities are designed to help healthy young widows."

"I'll be honest with you; I broke down and cried when I read his e-mail. I broke down and cried."

State and IRS records obtained by the 10 News Investigators show the foundation has not been generous with the money it has collected from the specialty plates. 

Since it began operating, "In God we Trust" has collected $448,149. But its most recent IRS filings showed it had distributed less than $10,000 to first responders and at one point, it even lost its tax exempt status because it failed to file the proper paperwork with the IRS. 

That's why we wanted to get answers from foundation head Darrell Nunnelley.

So we went to the foundation's headquarters, which according to state records brought in $177,900 last year with those specialty license plates. 

The address listed on their forms is 8810 Conray Windermere Road just outside Orlando. We found the folks at, "In God We Trust" must also trust the shipping company UPS, because this is what we found: a UPS Store and a post office box.

So we showed up at Nunnelley's house to ask what happened to the money. 

Nunnelley was none too pleased to meet us.

 

"I'm going to ask you to turn it off..." and at that point, he lunged and grabbed the camera off the shoulder of our photojournalist and slammed it to the ground. 

During the several-minute scuffle, Nunnelley was told he was going to go to jail if he didn't stop, and he responded with "I'm going to go to jail, anyway."   

State and federal records show the organization was in the hole $305,353 before the first plate was sold. 

Nunnelley has been reimbursing himself for the money he spent getting the controversial plate approved by the state legislature.  He also paid the president of the organization $27,000 which, according to his most recent filing, is almost three times what the organization has given out. 

The Florida Highway Patrol tells us they are investigating the foundation.  The criminal investigation surrounds Nunnelley and his wife Michelle, who is also an officer of the organization.

Court records show they have a foreclosure pending and he had a suggestion to file for bankruptcy for his real estate company, the Nunnelley Group.

For now, he has frozen all the funds that are coming for the license plates, but Krista Colquhoun believes the Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has to share some of the blame.

The firefighter's widow saves most of her anger for Nunnelley who paid lobbyists, lawyers and marketers in order to authorize the plates, which were supposed to help people like her, but haven't.

"I think we need to hold the State of Florida a lot more accountable than what we're doing, because it is the State of Florida's fault this guy is allowed to operate. I don't know how this guy sleeps at night."

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