Former YMCA CEO files defamation lawsuit, charges dropped
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The former CEO of the North Central Florida YMCA is working to clear his name after he was arrested on allegations he embezzled money from the organization. The charges are dropped and a defamation lawsuit is filed.
On Tuesday, John Bonacci filed a lawsuit against the North Central Florida YMCA and employees of the organization, Michele Martin and Pamela Burns. He claims the defendants defamed him and engaged in malicious prosecution.
He seeks damages for lost wages, reduced earning capacity, as well as pain and suffering.
According to his initial arrest report, the YMCA board discovered two unauthorized checks signed by then-CEO Bonacci during an internal audit. The checks were allegedly made out to himself and an area medical center.
He stepped down from his position in September 2017.
Bonacci was then arrested in October 2021 on felony charges of grand theft and fraud. Two years after the initial complaint was filed.
Last December, the charges against him were dropped by prosecutors after a procedural ruling by Circuit Judge David Kreider.
“After five and a half years of being villainized, I am relieved that the truth has come out and I am finally able to present my side of the story publicly. In over 20 years of being responsible for other people’s money, at times in excess of $100 million, I have never had a single allegation of impropriety. The old adage ‘No good deed goes unpunished’ does not begin to cover the damage done to my reputation, professional prospects, lost income, family’s suffering, etc. In the five years that I was running the YMCA organization my staff and I made many sacrifices for the good of the organization, its members, and the community, much of which is illustrated in the counter suit. I still have every respect for the YMCA organization, the cause, my management team (though all are gone now), and especially the children, seniors, and the Gainesville community that we served.”
Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Copyright 2023 WCJB. All rights reserved.