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Fla. County to Examine Possible Theft of BP Funds

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Updated: 5/15/2012 8:00 am
FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Investigators are scheduled to update Okaloosa County commissioners on their widening investigation into the possible theft of tourism funds provided by BP in the aftermath of the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

Tuesday's meeting comes less than two weeks after Okaloosa's former tourism director died of an apparent suicide. Investigators had unearthed more than $1.4 million in questionable spending by Mark Bellinger on his home and a yacht.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office last week said it was expanding its investigation beyond Bellinger, but said it could not release details.

The state Auditor General's Office is conducting forensic audits.

BP gave Okaloosa and other Panhandle counties millions of dollars to spend on tourism advertising to head off a lawsuit over business they lost because of the spill.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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