August jury trial date set for Dothan Planning Commission member facing theft charges

Gayla White

An Aug. 31 trial date has been set for a Dothan Planning Commission member accused of theft from a former employer.

Gayla White, 51, of Dothan, is charged with two counts of first-degree theft of property, accused of stealing event deposits while employed by Windmill Station, an event venue, in July 2018.

Police believe some Windmill clients’ deposits to hold events there did were not forwarded to the venue’s ownership.

The charges stem from a disagreement between White and Windmill Station owner Eddie Donaldson, said White’s attorney, Billy Joe Sheffield. The attorney claims the owner intentionally made up the allegations against his client, saying Donaldson was upset by White’s request for tax information and announcing that she was leaving her job.

In testimony at White’s preliminary hearing, Donaldson said he was not upset with White for leaving, and that he was unaware of the discrepancies until a family member or friend stopped by the venue to ask questions about an upcoming wedding scheduled for June 22 and 23, 2018.

A grand jury indicted White on the theft charges, and on Jan. 2, 2019, Sheffield entered a plea of not guilty for his client, waiving her arraignment.

Sheffield previously filed a notice with the court stating he received the report from the handwriting comparisons concerning his client, and the report states his client is not the person who wrote the documents, but indicates the individual who may have written the document. Sheffield also stated the expert would testify his findings and conclusion of his report.

First-degree theft of property is a Class B felony and occurs when the value of the property involved exceeds $2,500. The potential punishment is two to 20 years in prison.

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