Former treasurer ordered to repay VFW post for theft
A Snohomish County judge on Monday told him it's time to start making things right.
The Lake Stevens man last year admitted siphoning away more than $90,000 from the bank accounts of the Sultan-based Veterans of Foreign Wars Stoehr-Glidden Post 2554. The post's longtime former quartermaster cooked the books to hide his crimes.
Sherman was the group's "most trusted member for years," Gerry Gibson, a post trustee, told Superior Court Judge Millie Judge.
The theft stripped the post of the money it normally provides to help veterans in need and to fund scholarships for deserving students.
"He let the whole post down," Gibson said.
Sherman, 65, of Lake Stevens pleaded guilty Sept. 18 to one count of first-degree theft.
"I'm very ashamed of myself," the retired school maintenance worker told the judge.
Evidence showed Sherman used the post's checking account to pay some of his personal bills and for some of those belonging to roughly a dozen people close to him. One person received more than $26,500, court papers said.
The misconduct went on for five years. It wasn't detected before the bank reported the post's account had been emptied.
This is Sherman's first conviction. Under state sentencing guidelines he faced anywhere from no jail time to 90 days behind bars. In keeping with the plea agreement, prosecutors recommended no jail time, so long as Sherman committed to making $500 monthly payments.
Deputy prosecutor Bob Langbehn said that justice was best served by getting the money repaid. That will best happen if Sherman finds a job to supplement his retirement income, he said.
The judge said Sherman deserved more sanction than just being ordered to stick to a restitution plan.
In addition to $500 monthly payments, Sherman must serve 100 hours of community service "to pay back the community as well as the VFW for what you've done," the judge ruled.
Earlier in the hearing, Sherman's attorney, public defender Robert O'Neal, said his client wanted to do something to redeem himself.
Before the sentence was announced, Gibson told the judge that Sherman should explain to his former VFW comrades why he stole from the group.
"None of us know why he did this," Gibson said.
Sherman didn't comply with the request. Instead, his attorney said that the man had fooled himself into believing that he could replace the money without its absence being detected, and further deluded himself into believing his actions weren't criminal because much of the money was spent helping others pay their bills.
"He thought of himself as a fundamentally good person," O'Neal said.
The VFW post in Sultan has helped a lot of people over the years.
When word spread about its financial plight, people dug into their own pockets and offered help. About $2,300 in donations came in after Herald columnist Julie Muhlstein wrote about one woman's $9 donation, Gibson said.
"That was very heartwarming," he said.
Scott North: 425-339-3431, firstname.lastname@example.org
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