Greenbrier mayor faces TBI investigation over theft claims - WSMV News 4

Greenbrier mayor faces TBI investigation over donation theft claims

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The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is checking into claims the Greenbrier mayor, who is also the city's fire chief, may have stolen money from a group that gives Christmas gifts to children in need.

In the tiny town of Greenbrier, you'll be hard-pressed to find anybody who doesn't know everybody.

"It's lovely, quiet, quaint - not a whole lot of troubles," said resident Bobby Staten.

Mayor Billy Wilson is especially popular and is known for his philanthropy. Each year, he stands out on the main drag with his firefighters, collecting cash for kids.

"It could be 10 degrees. He's standing out there, bundled up right here on that corner, taking donations just like everybody else does," Staten said.

But, Wilson is now under investigation by the TBI, accused of stealing Toys for Tots donations and using the money for himself.

Still, it seems the entire town is rallying behind him.

"Billy Wilson is a great guy in my opinion," said Staten. "I don't see him living extravagant or spending a lot of money," he said.

Staten and several others said they've personally seen pennies collected put to good use.

"If it's being misused, then I don't know where those toys have come from, because I've seen them go to where they need to be," said teacher Keri Averitt.

Wilson has now hired two attorneys who told Channel 4 News on Wednesday their client couldn't comment.

Instead, Wilson's constituents and friends are now speaking on his behalf, and they're hoping the allegations aren't true.

"He's a wonderful man," said Averitt.

"Hold your judgement. Don't judge another man if you can't judge yourself, and it's innocent until proven guilty," said Staten.

Wilson hasn't been removed from any of his positions and isn't facing any charges.

In a statement Wednesday, the regional corporal for the Toys for Tots organization said, "Wilson has no affiliation with the Toys for Tots program whatsoever."

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