Officials say the Sequim Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4760 was defrauded of nearly $10,000. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Officials say the Sequim Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4760 was defrauded of nearly $10,000. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Port Angeles woman accused of embezzling nearly $10,000 from Sequim VFW post

SEQUIM — Charges against a Port Angeles woman accused of embezzling nearly $10,000 from the Sequim Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4760 are expected to be filed in Clallam County Superior Court today.

Clallam County sheriff’s deputies arrested 29-year-old Rischelle Lea Heaton on Friday for allegedly writing herself $9,715 in checks from the VFW, $2,900 of which had come from the VFW’s Strand Veterans Relief Fund, court records say.

The fund is used to help veterans and their families in emergency situations.

She was held in the Clallam County jail over the weekend for investigation of first-degree theft, 32 counts of forgery and two counts of computer trespass.

Prosecutors asked Superior Court Judge Brian Coughenour on Monday to set bail on the case at $2,500 because of Heaton’s District Court warrant from 2015 and 13 failure-to-appears since 2005, but no bail was set on the case, said Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Sarah Acker.

Heaton was released from jail Monday after posting $500 bail on the District Court warrant.

Acker said Tuesday she had not yet made a charging decision but that Heaton is facing up to one count of first-degree theft, up to 32 counts of forgery and up to two counts of computer trespass.

“I have to look at each count individually,” she said. “I’m still reviewing the charges.”

Heaton, who was the VFW’s secretary, allegedly forged the VFW’s quartermaster’s name on 32 checks to herself from November 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.

Heaton did not have authority to sign checks, records say.

Barker declined to comment on the case this early in the process.

Barker hadn’t noticed money missing at first because the majority had come out of the “club” account, which runs the bar, he told police.

He told police he noticed money missing only after $2,900 had been transferred from the Veterans Relief Fund into the club account.

He told Sequim police that he believed the money was moved in two transfers within several days of each other in February.

During the first transfer, $1,200 was transferred from the Veterans Relief Fund account.

“On the same day Heaton wrote herself a check from the Club account for the exact amount of $1,200, to which she forged [his] name and deposited into an unknown personal account,” deputies said in court records.

It is alleged that a similar transfer happened again a few days later. That was for $1,700, court documents say.

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 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 jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

More in Crime

Trial dates set in Sequim home invasion case

Sheriff’s office says actions tied to drug trafficking

Mental health court sought in bus case

Woman charged with theft of a transit vehicle

Port Angeles man faces six felonies for child sex offenses

Documents: Communication continued after protection order served

Arraignment set for Forks man charged with assault

Infant had brain bleed, fractured femur and ribs, sheriff’s office says

Girl released from hospital after being struck by bullet

Report: Father pointed gun and pulled trigger

Home invasion suspect arrested in Port Angeles

A 61-year-old Port Angeles man was arrested on investigation… Continue reading

Man wields machete in Port Angeles road rage incident

Police: Lee punches driver, breaks window of another vehicle

Sequim woman arrested for animal cruelty

Charges still pending from similar incident in 2022

Fourth arrest made in Sequim home invasion robbery

Sheriff’s office says Blake directed three others

Sequim man arrested on child molestation

Iliff, 83, previously pleaded guilty to communication with minor

Man arrested on investigation of assault of a infant

A Forks man has been arrested on investigation of second-degree… Continue reading

Three men arrested for Sequim home invasion robbery

Suspects allegedly held three victims by gunpoint