Religious Organization Leaves Trail Of Unpaid Bills

College, University Seek Payment
WESH, Feb. 21, 2003

ORLANDO, Fla. — It started out as a religious foundation to help the needy in Central Florida. But a WESH NewsChannel 2 investigation found the foundation still owes a prominent local college, another university, and others tens of thousands of dollars.

Gilbert Wyche doesn’t want you to know who he is. He’s left a trail of unpaid bills worth at least $50,000 around Central Florida, WESH NewsChannel 2 reported.

That trail started in his now-abandoned Orlando office, where Wyche ran the Foundation That Touches the World. It’s a religious, not-for-profit organization he founded to help the poor get an education. But other than Wyche, WESH NewsChannel 2 couldn’t find or provide evidence that the foundation helped anyone.

A case in point: Rollins College. Wyche’s secretary, Joan Schroft, set up a full scholarship for Wyche at the Crummer Executive MBA Program. But the foundation never paid a dime and now the school is out $32,000.

Same story at Clemson University in South Carolina. This time, Wyche’s son received a scholarship. The foundation’s check bounced. “But the check they wrote that was marked insufficient funds was for $9,400,” Clemson University Director of Financial Aid Marvin Carmichael said.

“Initially, the scholarship shocked me,” Kissimmee businessman Clinton Pownall said. Pownall is suing the foundation. He said he was stiffed out of $6,000 after selling them software and a laptop, which ended up with Wyche’s son.

The owner of a limousine, Don Mullings, thought he was giving Wyche the ride of a lifetime. Instead, he said he was taken for a ride.

Mullings said Wyche wanted to take his son to Clemson in style. “It was supposed to be a gift. It was supposed to be some reward, like a bonus, from the foundation to Wyche, who was supposed to be the president of the foundation,” Mullings said. Two foundation checks bounced, and Mullings is still waiting for his $2,800.

Like the others owed money, Mullings said he kept giving the foundation chances because of Schroft’s assurances. So what does Wyche have to say? “Why would I want to go on camera?” Wyche said. Off camera, he insists he never did anything wrong and that he wants to pay everyone back. He said Overland Trust never gave the foundation the money it promised.

And what about secretary Joan Schroth? She’s back in jail and not talking either. She was arrested last October for writing bad checks for two Mercedes from a Winter Park dealer — one for herself, one for Wyche’s foundation.

As for computer consultant Clinton Pownall … “What they’re doing is wrong, and misrepresenting what they’re doing to the community and other people is wrong,” Pownall said. Wyche must now pay back Rollins College and Clemson University.

So where is Overland Trust, and who’s behind it? Schroth signed for it, and WESH NewsChannel 2 learned the trust used the same address as the foundation. While Schroth is in jail, no charges are pending against Wyche. The foundation is not being investigated at this time.

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