Former Thunder Beach Rally event organizer turns himself in

A top former organizer of Thunder Beach Rally has been arrested after allegedly writing more than $500,000 in worthless checks.
Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 9:02 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The former event organizer behind the Thunder Beach Rallies in Panama City Beach turned himself into the Bay County Jail.

“There was a warrant issued a little while back, about a week and a half ago,” Sgt. Stephen Rhinehart with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office said. “I got in contact with [Chase Micheal.] He stayed in contact with me, and he surrendered himself [Thursday] night to us at the jail.”

The Bay County Sheriff’s Office reported Chase Micheal is being charged with 22 felony counts of giving a worthless check. The face value of those checks amounted to more than $500,000.

“They were legitimate checks from the business, and he was directing them to be issued out to people who are to be paid for whatever services,” Rhinehart said. “You know vendors, anyone providing the service to the event.”

BCSO said some of the checks were written to the same person or business.

“The incident was reported in June of this year by a local citizen,” Rhinehart said.

That initial notice allegedly led to a paper trail of more worthless checks.

“From that point, we began an investigation into what was going on, and we actually learned of the issue with the checks as part of the investigation that the citizen reported,” Rhinehart said.

The investigation is still ongoing. However, the sergeant said incidents like these serve as warning signs.

“You know whether it’s someone who’s bad at business or someone who’s reckless in keeping their records up, or if it’s just someone out to perpetrate a scam, there’s all kind of things, and people just need to be mindful of who they’re dealing with.”

Micheal made his first court appearance Friday. He could face decades behind bars. Micheal’s bond is currently set at $44,000.

The Fall rally next month is still a go. However, Thunder Beach officials posted on Facebook Sept. 5 saying they won’t have large concert acts for “circumstances beyond our control.” They said these types of acts will return for next year’s Spring rally. The Tourist Development Council normally provides funding to the rallies every year. An official with the TDC said they’re not giving money for next month’s rally. We asked for an interview with the TDC asking why this is the case. No one said they could speak to us about it Friday.