"There is just nothing there," said Chuck Donahue, commander of VFW Stoehr-Glidden Post 2554 in Sultan.
Worse, a trusted member of the organization appears to be responsible.
The post's former quartermaster, Edward Ray Sherman, 65, of Lake Stevens, was charged Tuesday with first-degree theft.
Snohomish County prosecutors allege Sherman has admitted taking advantage of access to the post's checking account to pay bills for himself and a number of people close to him.
The misconduct began in 2007 and didn't come to the attention of others at the post until late last year when the bank said the account had been emptied. There should have been a large cash balance dating to the sale of post property several years ago.
"Ed Sherman admitted to writing these unauthorized checks and said he knew it was wrong and he is ashamed The end result of the theft of funds was the total depletion of VFW funds," according to a police affidavit filed this week in Snohomish County Superior Court.
"What Mr. Sherman took away from us is just unbelievable," Donahue said.
Normally the post has money to award scholarships to local students headed for college, or to help out veterans having a difficult time paying a power bill, he said. Not now.
But nobody is giving up, said Gerry Gibson, a post trustee.
Post members were told that they needed to find a way to raise money or they'd have to close down.
"Several people dug in their wallet for a couple of hundred bucks or wrote a check for a couple of hundred bucks," Gibson said.
"We've got some good fellas who are part of our post," Donahue said.
Sherman has no criminal history. Police traced unauthorized payments from the post account to roughly a dozen people. One person received more than $26,500, court papers said.
Scott North: 425-339-3431; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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