Charges dropped against former Fort Worth aviation chief accused of misusing city funds

Charges have been dropped against a former city of Fort Worth department head accused of abusing his office and misusing taxpayer funds.

The Tarrant County district attorney’s office moved to drop charges against William Welstead in May, citing prosecutor discretion, according to court records.

Welstead, who had worked for the city for 11 years, was fired in September 2020 after an internal investigation found he had been involved in a hit-and-run in a city owned vehicle and then directed staff to use a city-issued credit card to pay for damages.

Welstead also used airport land for hunting and operated a private aerospace company he didn’t disclose, according to his termination letter obtained by the Star-Telegram shortly after his 2020 firing.

He was accused of misappropriating $43,000 in taxpayer dollars and was referred to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office for investigation.

He was indicted on abuse of official capacity, which could have resulted in a 10-year prison sentence if convicted.

The city recouped the money by deducting it from Welstead’s accrued paid-time off, city manager David Cooke said in a statement shortly after the firing. He went on to call Welstead’s actions “inconsistent with the City’s organizational values of accountability and ethical behavior.”

Cooke declined to comment on the district attorney’s move to drop charges against Welstead when asked Monday.

Wellstead’s attorney, Jeff Hampton, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fort Worth’s aviation department manages the three city-owned airports: Perot Field, Spinks and Meacham International. Spinks and Meacham provide regional aviation services for air charter, corporate, business and recreational flyers, while Perot Field offers services for cargo, corporate aviation and military flight needs, according to the city’s website.

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