The three charges against Scott McKinney accuse him of defrauding those who helped him put on the 2016 Destin Holiday Classic basketball tournament for high school girls.
TOM McLAUGHLIN @TomMnwfdn
SANTA ROSA BEACH — Charles “Scott” McKinney, a longtime sports radio talk show host in Northwest Florida, has been arrested on charges he defrauded organizations hired to assist in his conducting a high school basketball tournament.
McKinney will also be served this week with paperwork charging him with a violation of probation, according to Okaloosa County Chief Assistant State Attorney Bill Bishop. He had been sentenced to five years in prison and 50 years’ probation in 2009 for stealing from radio show investors.
“The court is holding him on no bond until the VOP paperwork is served,” Bishop said Thursday.
McKinney, who hosted radio talk shows on 98.1 The Ticket before his first arrest and on 100.3 The Ticket after his release from prison, was taken into custody Friday in Walton County, Bishop said. The radio station, owned by the Hale family, is headquartered in Fort Walton Beach.
The Hales had “worked hard to give Scott another chance” following his first stint in prison, according to Ron Hale Sr., general manager of The Ticket.
McKinney had announced his departure from the station on social media June 25, saying he was going to work full time producing a sports podcast.
Hale said the station had been alerted that McKinney might have been engaging in illegal activity by the time he resigned.
“He just basically said in a text he sent me that under the circumstances he felt like it was best if he left the company,” Hale said. “I’m sorry he’s in jail, but I can tell you now we’re done. He’s made his own bed and there’s nothing we can do. He’s a former employee and we’ll have nothing else to do with him.”
The three charges against McKinney accuse him of defrauding those who helped him put on the 2016 Destin Holiday Classic basketball tournament for high school girls.
Tournament officials supplied by the Miracle Strip Officials Association and trainers hired from the Andrews Institute Sports Medicine Outreach Program were not paid for their efforts, an Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office report said.
Embassy Suites, which provided a block of rooms for visiting athletes, also did not receive payment, the report said.
The three groups together were defrauded out of about $10,000 according to the report.
Bishop said law enforcement agencies are “investigating other matters involving this defendant,” and Hale said he expects the scope of the inquiry will expand greatly in the next month or so.
“This is very early on Scott McKinney,” Hale said. “There’s going to be a lot of things coming out of the woodwork.”
Okaloosa County Circuit Judge Thomas Remington sentenced McKinney to five years in prison on Feb. 24, 2009, after the then-host of Southern Sports Tonight pleaded guilty to nine counts of theft and one count each of organized fraud, money laundering and racketeering.
Assistant State Attorney Russ Edgar, who prosecuted the original case, told Remington that McKinney had sold shares in his Southern Sports Tonight LLC to investors by claiming he was about to send his show into national syndication. The shares he sold — some of them for 49 percent ownership each — far exceeded 100 percent stock in the company. Six men who had invested in his show said McKinney stole nearly $140,000 from them.
Edgar told the court McKinney, who under terms of the plea could have been sentenced to just over a year in prison, deserved to serve a five-year maximum sentence.
He told the court in 2009 that McKinney had stolen from others, citing cases in Mississippi as examples.
Edgar also produced records at the original sentencing hearing indicating McKinney spent much of the money he obtained from investors on gambling and an extravagant personal life.
McKinney served three years and three months of the original sentence and was released from prison May 13, 2013, Florida Department of Corrections records show.
Edgar said Thursday the current investigation of McKinney’s “business practices” was initiated after he received “multiple complaints from multiple sources.”