PORT ANGELES — A 29-year-old Port Angeles woman was charged Wednesday with embezzling nearly $10,000 from the Sequim Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4760.
Rischelle Lea Heaton is charged with one count of first-degree theft and 31 counts of forgery.
She was arrested last week for allegedly writing herself $9,715 in checks from the VFW from October 2016 through March of this year.
Of that, $2,900 had come from the VFW’s Strand Veterans Relief Fund — which is not related to Clallam County’s Veterans Relief Fund — according to court records.
That VFW fund is used to help veterans and their families in emergency situations.
Heaton is scheduled for arraignment Friday.
Heaton, who was the VFW’s secretary, allegedly forged the VFW’s quartermaster’s name on 32 checks to herself from October 2016 through March 2017, court records say.
Heaton had access to checkbooks, all accounts, passwords and checking account numbers to assist in paying bills as part of her secretary duties, records say.
VFW Quartermaster William Barker told police he would have Heaton fill out checks to pay the bills and invoices before he would sign them.
He told police he noticed money missing only after $2,900 had been transferred from the Veterans Relief Fund into the club account.
Bank staff provided police with copies of 32 checks with forged signatures. The bank manager pointed out to police that the signatures on all the checks were different from how Barker actually signs his name.
Police obtained a search warrant and say they found checks were deposited into Heaton’s account in person at the bank, via remote deposit through the bank’s cellphone application and through ATM deposits.
During an interview with law enforcement over the weekend, Heaton allegedly said she was facing financial stress, bills, foreclosure and unemployment; that her health was poor; and that she planned to pay the money back with her tax return.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].