I was Geary Schindel’s good friend for over seven years. I was his friend right up until this incident.
Geary Schindel wanted the Bexar Grotto‘s Hydro-Geo committee to secretly give him $5,000. When we refused, he falsely accused us of misappropriation of funds, fraud, and laundering money. He then used those false accusations to threaten us with attorneys.
That’s the short story. I’ll let you read all the details below, including Geary’s email where makes his false accusations and threatens us with attorneys. His actions are reprehensible. Despite me spending days compiling 32 pages of irrefutable proof and multiple legal opinions that the Bexar Grotto and its officers did absolutely nothing wrong, no one has come forward to speak out publicly against Geary Schindel. That’s the real travesty in all this—your silence.
Bexar Grotto, Read This!
Your silence tells Geary Schindel that it’s OK. It’s OK to falsely accuse our Grotto of misappropriation of funds, fraud, and laundering money because no one in this Grotto will stand up to you, Geary. It’s OK to threaten the Grotto officers with attorneys because no one in this Grotto will defend them.
That’s what your silence tells Geary Schindel.
Maybe you’re silent because you think this isn’t your fight. Maybe you don’t want to get involved. But you are involved. This is your fight. Geary Schindel attacked your Grotto, and your silence tells Geary Schindel that there are no repercussions to his actions.
Are you still caving with Geary?
Geary Schindel, the President of the NSS who should be promoting caving, is willing to bankrupt his home Grotto and falsely accuse his friends of felony charges when things don’t go his way. Do you really want to cave with a man willing to turn on his friends? A man willing to lie and deceive to benefit himself? Geary Schindel should be ostracized from the caving community. Instead, every time you go caving with him, every time you laugh at his jokes, every time you help him with his projects, you are telling Geary Schindel that there are no repercussions to falsely accusing people of crimes and threatening them with attorneys.
Maybe the next time he threatens people, they won’t stand to up him like I did. Maybe they’ll cower down to Geary’s bullying because who can they turn to? Not you. Not the Bexar Grotto. Geary Schindel has everything to gain and nothing to lose by threatening people. Best case for him is that he bullies someone and gets what he wants. Worst case is nothing happens because none of you have the courage to stand up to him.
Do you have a bad history with Geary?
Even though no one offered any public support for me or the Grotto when I came forward about Geary Schindel, plenty of people have come to me privately to praise my efforts. Many of you have told me of your similar experiences with Geary Schindel. But none of you have spoken out publicly.
I watch as Geary Schindel repeats his pattern of befriending new cavers, and I know what’s going to happen, and you do, too. As soon as they have something Geary Schindel wants, he will turn on them. He will lie and deceive and manipulate to get what he wants as he has so many times in the past.
Those of you who have come to me with your stories about Geary Schindel, I will not call you out. However, I implore you to come forward and let the caving community know that what I have presented here is NOT an isolated incident and that Geary Schindel has a history of this behavior. Do not let the next generation of cavers be screwed over by Geary Schindel. Speak out.
On July 28, 2014, Geary Schindel came to the Bexar Grotto with an idea for a “Texas Hydro-Geo Workshop”. He said it would be a great money-making opportunity for the Grotto and asked the Grotto to “support” it, a rather nebulous term to which the Grotto agreed.
Pam Campbell and I became quite distressed as this “support” rapidly started committing the Grotto to expenses totaling thousands of dollars more than the Grotto had. The Grotto had no way to cover the deficit if this event failed. Hydro-Geo could have bankrupted the Bexar Grotto.
Fortunately, we were able to turn a profit of $2,074.51 that first year. However, that was only because we charged our volunteers the full registration fee to come work the event (although Geary and his long list of friends got in free), and also because we short-changed fellow Bexar Grotto members Christi Burrell and Joe Ranzau who catered the event.
We hosted this event for four years. It was a tremendous amount of work. Some Grotto volunteers were spending 6–9 months per year working on this two-day event. Furthermore, as our Grotto’s monetary assets increased, the Grotto had contentious infighting over how to spend the money. After four years, we decided it wasn’t worth the hassle and infighting and decided to no longer host the event.
This is when Geary’s true colors came through. He turned on his friends. He turned on the Grotto that supported him. He falsely accused us of multiple crimes and threatened us with attorneys based on his false accusations.
Even you, Geary. Bring it on. Or are you too afraid to talk about this openly despite your claim of being "transparent"?
I spent months watching Geary Schindel lie, deceive, and manipulate our Grotto. Pam Campbell and I stood up against him, and he subsequently sent us a four page email accusing the Grotto of misappropriating funds, fraud, and laundering money, and in that same email, threatened us with attorneys.
After threatening us, he comes back to our Grotto and lies again. I couldn’t take it anymore. Thus, on January 6, 2018, I sent the following email and attachments to the Bexar Grotto. It includes Geary’s threatening email, a timeline of events, as well the Grotto finances that prove we absolutely did NOT commit any of the crimes that Geary claimed.
|From:||firstname.lastname@example.org on behalf of Bennett Lee|
|Sent:||Saturday, January 6, 2018 2:09 PM|
|Subject:||[BexarGrotto] The Truth about HydroGeo|
|Attachments:||1-Finances.pdf; 2-Timeline.pdf; 3-Misappropriation.pdf|
I know this seems like I’m beating a dead horse, but very few people know the truth about HydroGeo because Geary is good at presenting a false public front, like the last Bexar Grotto meeting where Geary Schindel claimed that he consulted attorneys to make sure it was “legal” for us to spend the HydroGeo profits. Such a nice guy for doing that, right? This is a far different tune than Geary has been singing for the past month. Geary actually consulted attorneys to threaten the Grotto officers with misappropriation of funds unless we hand over all the Grotto’s HydroGeo profits.
This is not the only attempt Geary has made to acquire the Bexar Grotto’s HydroGeo profits. At one of our HydroGeo committee meetings Geary wanted to siphon $5,000 from the Grotto accounts without telling the Grotto (see Timeline attachment). When that didn’t work, Geary and Sue cried misappropriation of funds at the following HydroGeo meeting, which was disproved (see Financial attachment). When those private attempts failed, at the following Grotto meeting Geary bullied his way into showing a deceptive presentation and tried to bring a vote to give him $5,000 (see Financial attachment). When those attempts didn’t work, Geary consulted attorneys.
I am not going to let Geary dupe or bully the Grotto any longer. It is time the Grotto knows the truth about HydroGeo and Geary’s actions. I have compiled the details regarding HydroGeo. Most of you probably won’t read these documents in their entirety. However, I want them available now so you have time to read and understand them before HydroGeo comes up again or Geary asks for money again or wants to start his next grand scheme. Do not be fooled by Geary’s public front while he privately threatens the Grotto. Do not cower to his baseless threats. Read these documents and discover the truth for yourself.
Attachment #1: Finances
Details of the Grotto’s financial statements for the last four years, including full details of HydroGeo. This includes an analysis of Geary’s ambush presentation and exposes his intentional distortion and manipulation of numbers.
Attachment #2: Timeline
Progression of Geary’s increasingly aggressive attempts to acquire Bexar Grotto funds, starting with multiple attempts at $5,000 and culminating in his threats of misappropriation of funds in a move to seize all the remaining Bexar Grotto funds.
Attachment #3: Misappropriation
Geary’s threats of misappropriation of funds in his own words. Note that Geary’s email is rife with inaccuracies, but I have highlighted sections and included explanations of how Geary’s multiple claims are all false, along with supporting references and legal opinions.
The Real Tragedy
The real tragedy in all this is that no one in the Bexar Grotto has said anything publicly about this. In fact, the only public response has been an email from Geary and another from Tanya Leach (both below).
In Geary’s response, he apologizes for me exposing him publicly but never apologizes for his attack against our Grotto or his false accusations. He makes jokes, claims that I’m distorting facts and lying (hollow accusations for which he provides no evidence), and lies yet again to the Grotto saying that he has always been “transparent”, then invites people to to call him for a private conversation. Read the documents in the email above and it is clear that Geary absolutely has not been transparent. Furthermore, discussing this in private with individuals instead of discussing it publicly is the exact opposite of transparency.
|From:||email@example.com on behalf of Geary Schindel|
|Sent:||Sunday, January 7, 2018 5:04 PM|
|Subject:||[BexarGrotto] THGW Post by Bennett Lee|
First off, I want to apologize to the grotto and the greater caving community for Bennett Lee’s post regarding the Texas Hydro Geo Workshop. I thought this issue was put to bed at the last grotto meeting. (I will check under the tables for any dead horses on Monday LOL ).
The grotto email list (or Facebook) is not the appropriate forum for venting of grievances or personal attacks, nor is it appropriate for a response to the many distortions of fact and out right falsehoods – life is way too short to waste any more time on the subject.
I have tried to be as transparent as possible in my dealing with the grotto and would be happy to discuss any questions or concerns that anyone has regarding the Workshop or the Grotto and you are more than welcome to call me. No question is off limits or too tough. Just stay off the roof.
Thanks, and see you at the grotto meeting on Monday.
Here is Tanya Leach’s email. Other than Geary, she is only other person to publicly respond. She accuses me of filtering information because I didn’t include her entire Facebook conversation. OK, Tanya, let’s talk about why I didn’t include your entire conversation.
I said you were a friend of the Schindel’s because you had a romantic relationship with their son. I think that makes you quite biased. Also, I know you are getting misinformation from your romantic partner’s mother, Sue Schindel. Your Facebook comments stated that the Bexar Grotto doesn’t discuss anything and just holds secret votes. The truth is that the Bexar Grotto discusses topics for so long that people have walked out during the meetings in frustration. Our half-hour meetings were regularly extending nearly two hours because of these lengthy discussions. But you wouldn’t know any of this because you moved out of state and hadn’t been to a meeting for nearly two years.
Thus, I did not include your entire Facebook conversation because it was (1) inaccurate, (2) biased, and (3) completely irrelevant to Geary Schindel falsely accusing us of felony crimes and threatening us with attorneys. Instead of making your baseless accusations, come forward with whatever relevant information you say that I am “filtering out”, and I will gladly post it here.
|From:||Tanya Maese Leach|
|Sent:||Sunday, January 7, 2018 9:32 PM|
|Subject:||Re: [BexarGrotto] The Truth about HydroGeo|
Hello Bexar Grotto,
Bennett why did feel the need to state my friendship with the Schindel’s? What does that have to do with anything? There is no one in the grotto that I have been nothing but friendly towards. I consider you a friend… am I mistaken because I don’t agree with you on this issue??
In attachment 2 Bennett included a fraction of my Facebook comment, but then included his response in entirety. My question is if he is only including parts of my comments, what else is he filtering out?
Food for thought,
In case you don’t want to read the Timeline document that I meticulously compiled, here is a graphical summary of the relevant events. It also includes some more recent events that have happened since I compiled the above Timeline document.
Geary asks Grotto to “support” Hydro-Geo
Geary Schindel presents the idea for a Hydro-Geo Workshop to the Bexar Grotto as a great “money making opportunity” for the Grotto.
1st Hydro-Geo Workshop
Bexar Grotto squeaks out $2,000 profit, which was largely the result of charging Grotto volunteers to work the event (although Geary and his long list of colleagues got in for free).
2nd Hydro-Geo Workshop
3rd Hydro-Geo Workshop
4th Hydro-Geo Workshop
Geary initiates talks with New Mexico and Alabama
Geary Wants $5,000 without Consulting the Grotto
First committee meeting post 2017 Hydro-Geo.
- Geary wants to spinoff Hydro-Geo into its own entity, and we agree.
- Geary wants $5,000 seed money to fly himself to New Mexico without consulting the Bexar Grotto.
- We refuse. We also explain that per our Bylaws we can’t give money to directly him, but we can give it to another 501(c)(3). Geary Schindel, Sue Schindel, and Mike Harris agree to start creation of a 501(c)(3).
- Sue tells us not to discuss the final Hydro-Geo profits with the Grotto yet. I believe Sue wanted time for her and Geary find other ways to acquire the Hydro-Geo profits and didn’t want the Grotto to know the actual numbers beforehand.
Sue Schindel cries “Misappropriation of Funds”
Our final post Hydro-Geo committee meeting.
- Sue Schindel says that if we have any profit leftover, it’s misappropriation of funds because we told our donors that their money was going to be spent on Hydro-Geo.
- Bennett points out that donations never once covered the full cost of the event. Hence, no misappropriation of funds (see Financial document).
Geary’s Deceptive Presentation
Despite our Grotto meeting already running long, Geary forced an unscheduled presentation.
- Geary takes credit for bringing in all $25,000 in donations. I later prove this is a lie (see Financial document). He also includes the Grotto’s $27,000 total profit on the same slide, obviously trying to deceive the Grotto into thinking he is solely responsible for the Grotto’s profits.
- Geary leaves out key facts, such as Hydro-Geo cost the Bexar Grotto $36,000 in expenses, and that our profits actually came from $38,000 in student registrations.
- Geary attempts to motion to spinoff Hydro-Geo and receive $5,000 in seed money.
- Bennett points out that Geary does not need the Grotto’s permission to setup his own 501(c)(3). Motion fails.
Geary Consults Legal Counsel
Geary Falsely Accuses Grotto of Missapropriation of Funds, Fraud, and Laundering Money
Geary sends an email to Bennett, Pam, Gregg Williams, and Rob Bisset claiming that he has consulted multiple attorneys and threatens that if we don’t hand over all the Grotto’s Hydro-Geo profits, then all the Grotto officers are guilty of misappropriation of funds, fraud, and laundering money.
Legal Counsel Rejects Geary’s False Accusations
- In his threatening email above, Geary claims that Jay Clark of the NSS Legal Committee supports his claims of misappropriation of funds.
- Bennett contacts Jay Clark and asks him to explain his legal position. In addition, Bennett consults Ted Lee, also of the NSS Legal Committee. Ted Lee, in turn, consults a tax attorney.
- All three attorneys reject Geary Schindel’s claims of misappropriation of funds. (See Misappropriation document for the actual emails and legal opinions from the attorneys.)
Geary Lies to the Grotto (Again)
Geary sends an email to the Grotto claiming that he never intended to spinoff Hydro-Geo and that he never intended to create a national event.
However, Geary has been claiming since the very beginning of Hydro-Geo that it could grow into a national or even international event. Furthermore, Geary was already in discussions with New Mexico and Alabama.
Bennett Outs “Someone” for Threatening the Grotto with Attorneys
In a Facebook thread discussing what to do with all our Grotto money, Tanya Leach (see above) accuses the Grotto of being selfish cavers. There is some debate about the unwarranted accusation, and Bennett responds with:
Maybe Tanya means the guy who has threatened to take HydroGeo away from the Bexar Grotto multiple times; flat out said he doesn’t need the Grotto to put on HydroGeo; just gave a presentation at the Grotto where he proclaimed that he and he alone brought in ALL the sponsorship money, and even when Pam protested that other people helped, he stood fast in his assertion that he brought all in that money all by himself; and when we didn’t give him money that meeting, he has since been consulting attorneys to threaten us with misappropriation of funds in a move to seize it all. Maybe she means that selfish caver?
Geary Lies to the Grotto (Yet Again) about Consulting Attorneys
After Bennett quietly outed “someone” for threatening the Grotto with attorneys, Geary comes to the next meeting and claims that he consulted some attorneys just to make sure it was “legal” for the Grotto to spend the Hydro-Geo profits. He failed to mention anything about falsely accusing us of crimes and using those attorneys to threaten us.
Read Geary’s own email in the Misappropriation document. Geary clearly consulted attorneys not because he was making sure it was legal for the Grotto to spend the money but because he was looking for a reason for it to be illegal.
Bennett Exposes Geary Schindel
After much internal turmoil and debate, Bennett decides he cannot remain silent while Geary Schindel repeatedly lies to the Bexar Grotto and secretly tries to acquire Bexar Grotto funds by bullying and threatening Bennett, Pam, and Gregg Williams. Consequently, Bennett sends the email documented above to the Bexar Grotto and exposes Geary’s treachery and deceit.
Geary Lies to the Grotto AGAIN
Geary’s response (see The Facts above) to Bennett’s email is to make jokes about this whole situation and to lie yet again, claiming that he has always been “transparent”.
Geary did not tell the Grotto that he falsely accused us of multiple crimes. He did not tell the Grotto that he threatened us with attorneys. He lied in his Grotto presentation and left out key facts. He lied about spinning off Hydro-Geo. He lied about consulting attorneys. Even in this email response, he tells people to contact him for a private discussion about this matter. All of this is the exact opposite of transparency.
Geary Lies about NSS Bathroom Repairs
During a Grotto meeting, Geary Schindel asks the Grotto for money to offset bathroom repairs at the NSS headquarters in Alabama. He claims the NSS needs $20,000 immediately—no time to verify Geary’s claims—and wants the Bexar Grotto to donate $5,000.
To be clear, Geary Schindel, who has just been exposed for repeatedly lying to the Grotto, is requesting money for the NSS, the organization whose legal committee Geary Schindel just used to threatened our Grotto. Despite all that, the Bexar Grotto votes to give him money that same meeting without verifying the facts.
Bennett Gets Facts about Repairs
Bennett contacts Dave Haun, NSS Vice President of Operations, who is in charge of the NSS bathroom project. Turns out that the numbers Geary presented were wrong. More importantly, the NSS did not need $5,000 from our Grotto and certainly did not need it immediately as Geary claimed.
Bexar Grotto Remains Silent about Geary’s Treachery
Despite the overwhelming evidence against Geary, no one from the Bexar Grotto has come forward publicly to reprimand Geary. You still cave with him. You still help him with Hydro-Geo and other projects. You still laugh at his jokes. He should be ostracized from the caving community, but none of you have the balls to stand up to Geary Schindel. You are all cowards.
Grow some balls and stand up to Geary Schindel
Don’t let him continue to bully and threaten people.