Aaron McCreight’s attorney: Good man who made bad choice

Dothan native William White, a well-respected Alabama attorney, will represent embattled Visit Dothan president on bank fraud charge.
Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 1:27 PM CST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -Dothan native William White, a well-respected Alabama attorney, will represent embattled Visit Dothan President/CEO Aaron McCreight on charges that he lied to obtain a badly needed loan from an Iowa bank.

McCreight faces a federal bank fraud indictment that alleges, as CEO of Go Cedar Rapids, a tax funded tourism recruiting group, he inflated attendance and revenue estimates for NewBo Evolve, a three-day music festival that tanked in 2018.

“Mr. McCreight is a good man who, under extreme pressures of his employment, made a bad decision. His motive was not based in personal greed, but in an attempt to salvage the Newbo Evolve event for the Cedar Rapids community,” White told News 4 in a statement.

McCreight and a co-worker, also indicted, projected that 4,000 three-day passes would be sold at $375 each, but only 602 were purchased. Projections that 22,000 general admission concert tickets would be sold were also far off the actual number--- 8,300.

Based upon McCreight’s estimates, Bankers Trust of Iowa financed the festival that featured entertainers Kelly Clarkston and Maroon 5.

When the dust settled, NewBo Evolve had lost millions and Go Cedar Rapids fired McCreight, whose indictment followed a multi-year investigation.

“Had the event sold more tickets and been profitable, it is unlikely any prosecution would have ensued,” White said.

Go Cedar Rapids, more than $2 million in debt, dissolved.

By early 2019, McCreight had found a gig like the one he had in Iowa—president and chief executive officer of Visit Dothan, also a tax-funded tourism group.

Visit Dothan’s Board of Directors believed he had been made a scapegoat in Cedar Rapids and, despite the indictment, continues to stand by McCreight .

“As part of the Board’s consideration in this matter, the Board focused on Aaron’s time in Dothan, his job performance at Visit Dothan, and the outstanding work that he has done in our community,” the board said in a statement.

However, several elected officials and business leaders have told News 4 in off-the-record conversations that it would be difficult for McCreight to remain if he is convicted of bank fraud, though all believe he has done a good job.

Aaron McCreight plans to plead guilty on an unspecified date, though it is not known if that plea will be to a less serious charge.

“Mr. McCreight accepts his involvement in the lending bank losing money and is extremely remorseful,” White said.

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