9 Investigates: State asks Feds to investigate "In God We Trust" license plate foundation

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

9 Investigates is getting results in a major specialty license plate scandal.

We first exposed questions about the “In God We Trust” plate almost a year ago. Now, investigative reporter George Spencer has learned, federal investigators are being called in and officials want state license plate laws changed.

When we interviewed the founder of the “In God We Trust” license plate foundation last year, he could not say how much income the group had or how much money it had actually given away to needy first responders or their survivors, as promised.

“I don’t know the exact number,” said Darrell Nunnelley, in response to both questions.

Despite the big questions, the specialty plate raked in $145,975 between last spring, when the state launched its investigation, and the end of November.  That income was the result of new purchases and renewals on a total of 5,154 plates.

Before the 9 Investigates' story, the state had never encountered a problem like this. State officials, who oversee all of the state's specialty license plates, had no mechanism to stop selling a license plate that has been breaking the rules.

For now, all income from "In God We Trust" plates is being held in escrow, and the state has now asked federal authorities to join their investigation of this case. Officials also hope to change the language of laws governing state specialty license plates, allowing them to stop selling plates in cases where revenue is not fully and properly accounted for.

9 Investigates tried to speak with Nunnelley again for this story, but a phone number listed on the foundation's website does not seem to be working. We received no response to our email at the "In God We Trust" email address.