Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

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Former NWTF leader charged with theft

Washington Court House, Ohio – A former Ohio leader for the
National Wild Turkey Federation pleaded not guilty Dec. 8 to a
charge of felony grand theft.

Walt Ingram, 48, of Washington Court House, was indicted Nov. 21
by a grand jury in Fayette County.

He was arraigned Dec. 8, where he pleaded not guilty in front of
visiting Judge David Sunderland. Ingram, represented by Columbus
attorney Samuel Weiner, remains free on $2,500 bond. If convicted
of the fourth-degree felony, Ingram faces a maximum of 18 months in
jail and a $5,000 fine.

Ohio Outdoor News left phone messages for comment with both
Ingram and his attorney.

The indictment accuses Ingram of depriving the NWTF of $72,951
between Jan. 20, 2004 and May 31, 2008. The indictment alleged
Ingram controlled the money “beyond the scope of the express or
implied consent of the National Wild Turkey Federation.”

A pre-trial was set for March 18 and a trial on March 31.

Fayette County Common Pleas Judge Steve Beathard and Fayette
County Prosecutor David Bender have both recused themselves from
the case. Special prosecutor Judy Wolford, the district attorney in
Pickaway County, is handling the state’s case.

Wolford said the $72,951 has since been returned to the
NWTF.

The National Wild Turkey Federation has 14,500 members in Ohio,
making it the largest volunteer conservation organization in the
state

Ingram had been a regional director and regional field
supervisor for the past 17 years before he resigned June 22.

The charges against Ingram stemmed from a probe that began with
the NWTF on the national level regarding the inappropriate handling
of funds, Burcham said.

Ingram is well known in conservation circles, having been a
leader for the NWTF in Ohio for nearly 20 years.

“He worked hard for the state of Ohio,” Burcham said. “He met a
lot of people and a lot of people liked him. He will still have
friends.”

A regional director, which is a paid position, works as a
liaison between local chapters and the national headquarters of the
organization in Edgefield, S.C. Regional directors, of which there
are four in Ohio, are responsible for coordinating and planning
banquets and supporting outreach programs, among other duties. A
regional field supervisor oversees the regional directors.

Robert Burcham, of Lawrence County, is president of the
18-member oversight board of volunteers who determine how NWTF
money is spent in the state. Burcham, serving in his first year as
president, acknowledge that it’s been a difficult one for the
organization, but he sought to reassure the NWTF’s members in
Ohio.

“We are going to move forward no matter what happens,” Burcham
said. “We have a great group of volunteers.

“It’s been a trying year this year,” he said. “We’ve been
tested, but we’re going to keep on doing the things we do so
well.”

It’s been a tumultuous year for the NWTF on the national level.
The corporation’s CEO, Rob Keck, who had been with the organization
for nearly 30 years, abruptly resigned in April (Ohio Outdoor News,
April 11). Two other executives – Chief Operating Officer Carl
Brown and Sales and Marketing Vice President Dick Rosenlieb – were
ousted by the board of directors a month earlier. Insiders said the
ousters led to Keck’s resignation. Brown and Rosenlieb have since
sued the NWTF for defamation of character.

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