Ex-President and CEO of Go Cedar Rapids pleads guilty to Bank Fraud related to Newbo Evolve
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The man who spearheaded the bumbled NewBo Evolve event in Cedar Rapids that lost $2.3 million is now a convicted felon.
Aaron McCreight, who was fired as the President and CEO of Go Cedar Rapids in 2018, pled guilty to one count of Bank Fraud in Federal Court Thursday morning.
McCreight faces a maximum of 30 years in federal prison, a $1 million fine and up to five years of supervised release after the prison sentence is completed. Those details will get decided at a sentencing hearing, which will be scheduled at a later date. He is the second Go-Cedar Rapids official to be charged and plead guilty to charges related to the failed culture and music festival called Newbo Evolve in 2018.
Newbo Evolve was a three-day music event, featuring concerts by Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson, in August 2018. The festival lost more than $2 Million, forcing Go Cedar Rapids out of existence. Local vendors said they still haven’t been paid for their work during the event.
McCreight, who serves in a similar position today in Dothan, Alabama, said the tourism agency didn’t have enough money to pay headline singer Kelly Clarkson and the alcohol needed for the three-day music and culture festival. He also said he intentionally misled a bank about ticket sales, revenue and costs to increase a bank loan by $250,000.
William White, who is McCreight’s attorney told our sister station WTVY, News 4, in Dothan, Alabama, earlier in January McCreight made a bad decision while under extreme pressures of his employment.
“His motive was not based in personal greed, but in an attempt to salvage the Newbo Evolve event for the Cedar Rapids community,” he said. “Had the event sold more tickets and been profitable, it is unlikely any prosecution would have ensued.”
Following his arrest this month, McCreight received a unanimous endorsement from Visit Dothan Board of Directors who continue to stand by him, praising strides he has made to improve Dothan’s tourism industry.
“At this time, the Visit Dothan Board of Directors stands by the statement issued regarding this matter,” board president Dean Mitchell told News 4 after McCreight’s guilty plea.
That previous statement said, in part,” “The Board of Directors of Visit Dothan recently met and voted unanimously to retain Aaron McCreight as its President and CEO. The Board reached this decision after careful consideration of the present facts and circumstances surrounding the 2018 music festival event held during his tenure at Go Cedar Rapids in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where Aaron has now admitted guilt, expressed remorse, and a federal judge will rule on a punishment for him in the near future.”
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