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Former Post 195 treasurer took $51,000 from building fund

Posted: August 26, 2010 10:36 a.m.
Updated: August 27, 2010 5:00 a.m.

The former treasurer of Lugoff's Larry Jeffers American Legion Post 195 was arrested Tuesday and charged with breach of trust over $10,000. Jerry Lee Poole, 64, of Wildwood Lane, Lugoff, is accused of writing checks to himself or otherwise withdrawing more than $51,000 from the post's building fund in order to maintain a gambling habit.

According to Kershaw County Sheriff's Office (KCSO) Inv. Steve Knafelc, Poole allegedly stole the money between August 2007 and January 2009. He said Post 195 officers discovered some $23,000 of the building fund's money was missing late in 2009 and confronted Poole. An audit conducted by the S.C. Department of Revenue (DOR) revealed another $28,000 worth of funds missing from the account, said Knafelc.

"He agreed to pay back the first $23,407, paid back $1,800 of it up front and signed a promissary note for the difference," said Knafelc.

A KCSO incident report indicated Poole resigned his position as Post 195's treasurer in November 2009. The breach of trust charge was filed against Poole only in relation to the approximately $28,000 discovered missing by the DOR audit. The KCSO report stated that Poole wrote 37 checks totaling $17,627 to himself or the Veterans of Foreign Wars. It was also discovered after the audit period that Poole wrote additional checks or otherwise made withdrawals totaling another $10,472, bringing the missing audit-related funds to $28,099.

In all, Poole is accused of converting more than $51,000 of Post 195's money to his personal use. Knafelc wrote in his report that Poole confessed to Legion officers that he had a gambling problem.

Knafelc said the DOR conducted its audit earlier this year, referring to a DOR letter dated April 8. He said there were several reasons why Poole was arrested 10 months after his resignation as treasurer.

"There was some hope that he would pay back the money," said Knafelc. "We were also investigating issues that supposedly occurred in another county."

Knafelc said Poole was charged under Section 16-13-0260 of the South Carolina Code of Laws. Because the amount of money is over $5,000, Poole's breach of trust charge counts as a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine in an amount left to the discretion of the court.

Poole was released from the Kershaw County Detention Center the same day he was arrested, according to an online database of detainees.

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