VALDOSTA -- Witnesses testified Monday that the former Valdosta-Lowndes County YMCA director was honest and admirable.

"Nicky (Tampas) would take care of us," said Danny Broyles, who used to work at the YMCA and is now a pastor in Florida. "He knew we were working hard, and he would encourage us anytime he could."

Tampas is on trial for charges of embezzling almost $1 million, conspiracy to embezzle, making false statements and misleading conduct.

Larry Tobey, who took Tampas' place at the YMCA, testified last week that Tampas "became enraged" and began cursing and hitting objects when Tobey helped him remove his belongings from the YMCA office.

Defense attorney Converse Bright motioned Thursday to dismiss all charges.

Judge Hugh Lawson denied the motion with the exception of the charge of misleading conduct. Lawson did not rule either way on the charge.

As part of the conspiracy, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Crane said Tampas awarded contracts to landscaper Wayman Lee Patrick Jr., who then kicked a portion of the money back to Tampas.

Witnesses, ranging from former board members to state Sen. Tim Golden, all testified Tampas was an honest businessman.

Former Y employee Joey Cason, who has served in the military and in the clergy, described Tampas as "one of the most honest men I know."

Broyles said Tampas was "more than a friend ... more of a mentor."

"I don't want to see anything happen to him that should not happen to a man of his caliber," Broyles said.

Tampas was a "hands-on type of boss" who walked the YMCA campus "early in the morning till late at night," Broyles said.

Crane asked him if he knew Tampas had purchased $599 worth of merchandise from Country Cobbler.

Earlier that day, Bright asked several witnesses what type of clothing Tampas wore to work.

Witnesses said Tampas wore a suit and tie and worked in those clothes.

Broyles said Tampas often helped with pool chemicals.

"(The chemicals) would destroy your wardrobe," Broyles said, later adding that he could understand a $599 purchase at a shoe store.

However, when Crane asked if the YMCA allowed Broyles to make purchases to replace his items that were destroyed by pool chemicals, Broyles said no.

Testimony revealed board members were not kept informed of Tampas' credit card purchases.

James Allred, former chairman and treasurer of the board, testified he was aware Tampas had YMCA credit cards.

Crane asked Allred about the $600 purchase considering the YMCA was "cash strapped."

Allred said no one should have bought shoes with YMCA money at anytime.

Tampas had a responsibility to disclose everything to the board, Crane said.

Tampas resigned at the request of the board in 2003.

Patrick was found guilty on embezzlement and conspiracy charges in August. Financial director Toni Fillyaw was convicted and later sentenced in January to 42 months in prison on charges of embezzling about $1.3 million in YMCA funds, mail fraud and mailing fraudulent statements.

Closing arguments will begin at 9 a.m. today.



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