Ex-HSUS VP Wills cops a plea

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1999:

Former Humane Society of the
U.S. vice president for investigations David
Wills, 46, of Dickerson, Maryland, on June
16 pleaded guilty to one count of embezzling
$18,900 from HSUS between 1990 and mid-
1995; agreed to pay restitution of $67,800 to
HSUS; and accepted a six-month jail sentence,
reportedly to be imposed after judicial
review on August 5. HSUS and the State of
Maryland agreeed to drop six other counts of
embezzlement, alleging thefts of $84,128.

Wills was the longtime personal
protege of John A. Hoyt, HSUS president
1970-1996, and now president emeritus.
Hired in 1972 to head the New Hampshire
Humane Society, in Nashua, at Hoyt’s recommendation,
Wills reportedly left in 1978
just before the board discovered funds were
missing. Hoyt then recommended Wills to
the Michigan Humane Society, where he
was executive director, 1979-1989. Wills
resigned from MHS when the board began
inquiring into the disappearance of $1.6 million.
A bookkeeper, Denise Hopkins, was
eventually convicted of embezzling $56,000
of the missing sum. Wills next founded the
National Society for Animal Protection,
only to dissolve it when he joined HSUS.
Wills’ downfall began in June 1995
when Sandra LeBost of Royal Oak,
Michigan, won a $42,500 judgement against
him for nonrepayment of loans he solicited in
connection with starting NSAP. She has not
yet been able to collect. In August 1995,
three HSUS employees sued Wills for alleged
sexual harrassment and embezzling.
Suspended by HSUS soon afterward, Wills
was fired in November 1995, after ANIMAL
PEOPLE published three major exposes in as
many editions, detailing his checkered history.
Wills countersued the employees who
sued him. Both suits were settled out of court
in mid-1998, but HSUS then filed the case
against Wills which is to be settled by the
June 16 plea bargain.
Coincidentally, June 16 also
brought the fraud conviction in Detroit of one
of Wills’ close associates during his Michigan
years, former pro hockey player and
financier Dean Turner, 40. Turner, whose
mother served on both the MHS and NSAP
boards of directors, allegedly defrauded
investors––including his mother––of as much
as $14 million.

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