The former manager of the Key West Yacht Club has been arrested on theft charges and threatening to “shoot the place (the club) up.”
Key West Police officers arrested Michael Wilson, the former of owner of Michael’s restaurant in Key West, initially on felony charges of fraud by unlawful use of the Yacht Club’s credit card and grand theft stemming from Wilson making unauthorized purchases on the credit card and taking petty cash stored in the safe and nearly 200 bottles of wine, according to a police report. The unauthorized purchases include a payment to an online gambling site and funding stays at hotels for personal family trips, the report stated.
After being arrested on Nov. 4 and being released on bail, police officers arrested Wilson, who had been the manager for roughly two years, again on Thursday, Nov. 10, on charges of obstructing justice after he reportedly threatened to “shoot the place (the club) up,” and threatened the club’s commodore and several employees, the prosecutor’s motion to revoke his bail stated.
Yacht Club Commodore Peter Batty Jr. told police on Sept. 22 the club had discovered that the general manager had been taking cash from the safe and using a company credit card for personal purchases, the arrest report stated. Batty stated that Wilson was given the opportunity to resign after discovering the unauthorized credit card use.
Batty stated that the club’s accountant discovered a credit card charge to the business account made on Aug. 12 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Auburn, Alabama for $1,110.86. The charge was placed on a credit card belonging to an ex-employee. Batty stated the former employee’s last day was in April and that her company credit card was returned. Batty stated that the credit card should have been deactivated and destroyed, and that this would have been Wilson’s responsibility to do. Batty stated that the credit card was instead placed into the safe, to which only Wilson and the accountant had access. Batty stated that the safe has a combination lock and, again, only Wilson and accountant had the code, the arrest report stated.
Batty stated that upon the accountant discovering the Hilton charge, she confronted Wilson. The accountant stated that Wilson told her he had taken his son to college and must have accidentally used the wrong credit card. The accountant stated that Wilson did not have permission to use the credit card and that it, in fact, should have been deactivated. The accountant reported this issue to Batty, and he called a meeting with Wilson.
Batty stated that upon confronting Wilson, he originally denied having any knowledge of the transaction. Batty stated that after showing Wilson the transaction, he hung his head and apologized for using the credit card. He stated that he had dropped his son off at college and used the credit card to book the hotel. Batty stated that he gave Wilson the opportunity to resign and vacate the property, the arrest report stated.
Batty stated that due to Wilson also having a large running balance on his KWYC account, they withheld $1,660.68 from his last paycheck to apply toward his balance. Batty stated that he later requested that the accountant conduct an audit of the First State Bank business account.
Upon conducting the audit, the club discovered $4,535.46 in authorized charges had been made to the club’s credit card and nearly $1,300 in petty cash was reportedly taken by Wilson, the arrest report stated.
Prior to being arrested, police interviewed Wilson, and he said “he has used the KWYC (Key West Yacht Club) credit card on many occasions, but always with permission from (the club’s accountant),” the report stated.
Wilson told police that upon his resignation, he asked Batty about how he wanted to settle his Yacht Club credit card balance. Wilson stated that Batty told him he would get a final total and then have him sign a promissory note for repayment. Wilson stated that Batty had yet to contact him to provide him a total or the promissory note, the report stated.
On Nov. 9, Key West Police officer Monica Calbert prepared an arrest warrant for Wilson charging him with tampering with or harassing a witness, victim or informant. Wilson has been contacting the witnesses in this case and threatening them, according to the arrest affidavit.
Wilson contacted the executive chef and threatened to come “shoot the place up,” including Batty, the executive chef and “potential targets of his ire,” the arrest report stated.
“Due to the ongoing legal case we have been advised not to comment other than to say we immediately addressed the issues when discovered, and have implemented policies to hopefully prevent future problems,” Batty said.
Authorities arrested Wilson in 2016 on charges of failing to pay sales tax to the state of Florida when he owned Michael’s restaurant in Key West. The restaurant closed in 2019.
Wilson is the second consecutive Key West Yacht Club manager who was arrested on charges of stealing from the club. In 2019, Key West Police arrested the former general manager of the Key West Yacht Club on embezzlement charges.
Police charged Paul Gallagher, 55, with a felony count of fraud and swindle of $50,000 or more from the yacht club while in his capacity as general manager of the club, according to the Key West Police Department. The total amount missing, during a four-year period, is estimated to be $68,439.52, according to the arrest report.
The funds began missing in May 2015 and continued to October 2019, the report stated. An employee for the Yacht Club told the police that she believed “Gallagher would go into the company safe and remove cash payments before (she) would complete the biweekly deposits,” the report stated.
Gallagher admitted to Yacht Club representatives that he had been stealing the money, they told police. Gallagher was remorseful and said he would pay back all the money, the report stated. Gallagher has already given the Yacht Club a $25,000 check, the report stated.
Gallagher submitted his resignation letter, in which he admits to stealing the funds to “pay for a gambling and call girl habit,” the report stated.