Former Mammoth Tourism Director dead of apparent suicide

bellingerAccording to Florida news outlets, former Mammoth Lakes Visitors Bureau Director Mark Bellinger was found dead in Alabama after he resigned from his job as Okaloosa, Florida County Tourism Director and after he admitted he spent more than $700,000 of tax money to buy a yacht.  According to Florida news sources, Bellinger left a suicide note at his home, was reported missing by his wife, and later died of an apparent drug overdose. Those who knew Bellinger in the Eastern Sierra called him “outgoing, friendly and enthusiastic.”

Bellinger worked as director of the Mammoth Visitors Bureau from roughly 2000 through 2004 when he moved to Palm Springs to head up the Bureau of Tourism there.  He took the job of Tourism Director in the Okaloosa, Florida area in 2010 just after the BP oil spills.

The Huffington Post reported that Bellinger had been accused of misuse of public funds sent by BP to compensate for the oil spill.  Authorities alleged Bellinger bought his $747,000 home with the money and a $710,000 yacht.  The Post reported that the 52-year-old Bellinger had admitted he used tax dollars to buy the yacht but claimed it was to be used for county tourism promotions.  County commissioners were quoted as saying they knew nothing of these plans or the expenditure.

The same news report said Bellinger admitted he bought the yacht and then resigned from his position of director of the Tourism Council last week.  The Post reported that the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and state attorney’s office had issued an arrest warrant related to the purchase of Bellinger’s home.  They alleged he bought it with BP oil restitution funds.

Officials said Bellinger’s wife found his suicide note and called police.  Officers found him in a car in Alabama.  He later died at a nearby hospital.  The Okaloosa County Sheriff is quoted as saying that Bellinger’s death would not end a complex investigation into the tourism council’s spending during Bellinger’s tenure.

Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley is quoted as saying that his white-collar crime task forcer would work with the FBI and state auditor to investigate expenditures of tax money.


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27 Responses to Former Mammoth Tourism Director dead of apparent suicide

  1. upthecreek May 11, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

    like i have been saying


    or shall I say


  2. Rob May 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    “Bellinger worked as director of the Mammoth Visitors Bureau from roughly 2000 through 2004”

    Check the books I’ll bet this isn’t the first time he’s used public funds for personal use

  3. Wayne Deja May 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    Rob…Kinda figured your kind of post would happen… yet ANOTHER person that people in Mammoth will somehow blame for some of the mess Mammoth is in now….this time ,a man that committed suicide that, since he is now passed,can be looked at,and blamed, as “possibly” someone that did it years ago”to them”.Isn’t it about time you realize the PEOPLE OF MAMMOTH are the reason the city will soon be a ghost town?… there is no one really to blame but themselves.And certainly not inuendos towards someone that can’t defend themselves.

    • Rob May 12, 2012 at 6:38 am #

      No Wayne you’re the one that just made that association.

      Mr. Bellinger is dead because he did not want to face the consequences of his actions.
      He made the decission not to defend himself, that doesn’t mean he didn’t do the crime.

      I mearly said I doubt it’s his first rodeo.

    • Dingo May 12, 2012 at 7:05 am #


    • Trouble May 12, 2012 at 7:07 am #

      wayne- a ghost town,really?

    • Badfinger77 May 12, 2012 at 10:11 am #

      Yep exactly, check the Books from 2000 – 2004 the Devil is in the details eheheheh

    • Joe May 12, 2012 at 10:45 am #


      Rob did not say that it had anything to do with our financial mess here. He was just saying that Mammoth Lakes Tourism might want to check and see if their books were correct back then. The suicide has nothing to do with it. I would have said that Mammoth Lakes Tourism needs to check their books even if this guy was alive.

    • Jake May 13, 2012 at 7:54 am #

      Dude I live here and I am not the problem. Thanks have a nice day in Bishop!

  4. Big Rick O'Brien May 12, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    To anyone in public service making over 200,000.00 a year+ perks….how much is enough?

    • just one May 13, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

      Big Rick, I must agree with you, you see my husband I both work for the county/public. We are two that hold the shovels and make sure the public gets what they need and I must say we were just talking about this. It is our belief that NO ONE in public service should be making over 100,000 a year. Which would still be a cush living. Anything more is criminal and they should be ASHAMED of themselves. To listen to them whine about how they have given up so much and the workers are going to have to tighten there belts for the good of the County while they bleed us dry is just simply wrong.

    • upthecreek May 13, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

      @ big rick.
      200,000 is just the start.. the big kicker are the pensions and benifits.
      That.s what will make Taxifornia go BK.

      500 billion in unfunded liabities and growing


  5. Wild, Wild, West May 14, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    You know the saying –
    It’s not what the person EARNS that ticks people off – it’s that they earn more than YOU that drives them up the walls.

    Our nearly out-of-control types whine incessantly about socialism but want everyone to earn the same. No matter the level of education, experience and track record.

    • Home girl May 14, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

      Just because a person has a degree it does not necessarily make them smarter. Ever hear of an educated idiot? I bet you have. The point is that if you work for the people YOU SHOULD NOT MAKE OVER 100,000 a year that is criminal. I don’t mind working 50 some odd hours a week to take home 38,0000 a year. I love my job and I love helping people, Yes, I work for the county and I am proud to do so, but don’t you dare complain how much you have given when you are taking home almost a quarter of a million dollars a year, you havn’t given up anything

      • Wild, Wild, West May 15, 2012 at 8:32 am #

        Some are qualified for the job.
        Others clearly are not.

        Those who sacrificed early on who took out student loans, pursued advanced degrees ie., a master’s degree in public administration, etc., started at rock bottom and worked their way upwards and through their hard work shouldn’t be demonized by those who pursued other goals.

        I don’t think a socialistic system of controlling what everybody earns is such a good idea.

      • Ken Warner May 15, 2012 at 9:35 am #

        There is a difference between “smart” and “educated” You can have an IQ of 200 but if you don’t know anything it doesn’t really matter. Ignorance is not stupid — it just means you don’t know anything.

        If you are working over 50 hours a week for $38K — go back to school and learn something and double your income.

        • Wild, Wild, West May 15, 2012 at 10:03 am #

          Presidential nominee Mitt Romney came forward recently in defense of the “haves” who earn more than the” have nots.”

          The previous administration liked to joke about the haves and have mores.

          Rush Limbaugh tells his adherents people to quit whining and pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

          So what’s you sociopolitical beef?

          Its okay to be a “have” as long as you vote Republican?

        • Rob May 15, 2012 at 10:05 am #

          Lots of unemployed people out their with degrees that there is no demand for.

          Going back to school doesn’t necessarily get you a better job. If you haven’t noticed the economy in California is in the tank and getting worse.

          And don’t waste your time trying to get a job with TOML, I think they’re going to be cutting back real soon.

          • Wild, Wild, West May 15, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

            There is a high demand for those with successful municipal government backgrounds. And, as the case in any competitive field,
            in tough economic times, the wheat will always be sorted from the chaff and slackers, with or without the aid of government employee unions, (the worst thing the state of California ever embraced) get to reap what they have sowed (cut-backs).

            Then there are those whose only qualifications to call the shots for everyone and legally able to accept $$$ from any outside source, are that they got more votes than the other guy. Get into this position and discover cronyism and the power to hire somebody for an airport position that has no qualifications than he is related to you.

  6. Rob May 14, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    If you want to make over 100k a year I suggest doing it in the private sector and I won’t take issue.

    • upthecreek May 14, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

      Why do you think they call them PUBLIC SERVANTS???
      they serve themselves to the Taxes paid by the public.

      • Wild, Wild, West May 15, 2012 at 9:50 am #

        I see the government-haters are out in full-force again.
        (Nobody ever said the power of Limbaughism or Beckism wasn’t effective on those people mad at the world to begin with).

        You know the type – you know the individual.

        Check out these types

  7. Lone Ranger May 14, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    You can’t answer a question, but you sure can provide us with such wonderful wisdom….

  8. Wild, Wild, West May 15, 2012 at 5:54 am #

    Warren Buffet makes too much money.
    Bill Gates makes more than he needs.
    Rusty Gregory makes too much money.
    Mitt Romney makes more than he needs.
    Rush Limbaugh makes too much money.

    Those who didn’t see bad times coming, depending on their real estate holdings to appreciate forever (like it always had), didn’t work hard in school, didn’t watch their pennies, spent like drunken sailors, and now find themselves in an area that they simply cannot afford to live, in are whining the loudest and today hate everybody who planned for the future accordingly.

    Chill people. At least explain to your children and grandchildren the harsh, cold reality of a capitalistic system in bad times.
    Tell them they really don’t have to keep up with the Jones’ and that owning a Mercedes is no big deal.

    • Ken Warner May 15, 2012 at 9:38 am #

      Those people make a lot of money true. But they make it from people like you and me who are willing to give it to them without question or thought.

      • Wild, Wild, West May 15, 2012 at 9:56 am #

        A system without qualified leaders is a system in danger of being run by miscreants whose only qualification is they got more votes than the other guy.

        There are two elected long-termers who have clearly _______- ed up things royaly. That’s where your focus should be. Not the qualified At-Will people.

  9. Wild, Wild, West May 15, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    An actual solicitation for a Town Manager job in a small town in California.
    After reading, ask yourself, “Do I qualify for the job?”

    Candidates for this position will possess a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college or university in Public Administration, Political Science, Business Administration, Economy, Engineering, Urban Planning, or related field. A Master’s Degree in those fields is highly desirable. Additionally, the ideal candidate will possess a minimum of ten (10) years of stable and progressively responsible experience working for a municipal agency, of which, five (5) years will be direct experience working as a City Manager, Assistant City Manager, Deputy City Manager, General Manager, or Department Head in a comparable or larger public sector organization. The individual’s experience should clearly demonstrate a broad background in the management of municipal operations/organizations. Candidates will be well versed in municipal finance/budgeting, economic development, and possess a strong generalist background. A top candidate should also demonstrate a proven track record of working with developers to find creative ways to encourage development and should possess a passion for balancing a business friendly attitude within a small city atmosphere.


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