ComicsPRO, a non-profit trade association for comic book retailers, announced on Facebook that it was investigating one of its former board members for misuse or misappropriation of corporate funds. The Facebook post didn’t identify the former board member by name, but in a statement emailed to members of ComicsPRO, the person was identified as Gary Dills, former Director and Treasurer.
The statement sent to ComicsPRO members, via Bleeding Cool:
Yesterday Gary Dills resigned as a Director and Treasurer of the ComicsPRO retail trade organization. Gary did so after admitting to the President, Thomas Gaul, to certain financial improprieties. The board has accepted his resignation and is investigating the extent and degree of any misappropriation of organization funds, the effects it has had on the organization, and what the organization can do to recover the funds, if anything.
The Board of Directors is fully committed to investigating the circumstances surrounding these events and will make every effort to keep the membership informed as more information develops.
Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, this is not expected to affect the organization’s current staffing, programs, or the upcoming annual meeting.
A more general public statement will be issued via the organization’s web communication portals shortly. It is recommended that members utilize discretion with regards to this situation, especially this early into the process.
I think it’s kind of funny that the message to ComicsPRO members asked them to “utilize desecration”, yet at least one member forwarded the email to Bleeding Cool.
Who is Gary Dills?
Gary Dills was one of the founding members of ComicsPRO. He’s also co-owner of Laughing Ogre Comics, a chain of three comic book shops, two in nearby Northern Virginia and one in Columbus, Ohio. Here’s a photo from 2013 showing the board of directors of ComicsPRO. Gary Dills is the man in the red shirt, on the far right.
What does this now mean for ComicsPRO?
Whether or not ComicsPRO can rebound from this depends on a lot of factors. How much money did Gary Dills steal? How long did the embezzling take place? Did the organization ever have a third-party conduct regular audits of the finances? Were there any safeguards in place that should have prevented this? ComicsPRO members are business people. You have to own a physical comic book shop to pay $299 a year for the privilege of belonging to the organization. Most of the members know a thing or two about the proper management of money, or they wouldn’t be operating a comic book shop in 2014. If the remaining board members don’t address these and other questions that undoubtedly come up, I wouldn’t be surprised if most members didn’t renew their yearly membership when the time comes up.
Business people don’t like to give their money to organizations that don’t handle it responsibly.