Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Mystery of the Missing Money
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Mystery of the Missing Money

Accusations fly in $26,000 Keno shortfall at VFW post

Patrick Sullivan - March 11th, 2013  

Ten months after Keno was installed in the bar at VFW Cherryland Post 2780 in April, 2010, an audit discovered that $26,000 in gambling revenue was missing.

The person who conducted that audit, Richard Thibeau, was then just a rank-and-file member, but he had an accounting degree and almost two decades of criminal investigation experience in the Army and he was recruited to take a look.

Since then, Thibeau has been elected post commander, and he said he believes a former quarter master at the post is responsible for the missing $26,000 from Keno.


The case, though, is complicated, largely because of poor bookkeeping practices used until the missing funds were discovered and the number of people who had access to an office where money was stashed in a safe that was often kept unlocked.

Thibeau brought the findings of his audit to Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s detectives in 2011, who launched their own investigation. They sent a police report that named as a suspect the former quarter master, Douglas Jordan, to the prosecutor’s office.

Jordan denies embezzling any money and said he believes someone else at the post was responsible. Jordan also passed a lie detector test administered by the Michigan State Police.

Detectives used search warrants to get personal bank account records for Jordan and they found nothing suspicious, according to a police report. They also served a search warrant to get player’s club card information from the Grand Traverse Band casinos and they found that Jordan’s player’s club account had been inactive since 2009.


Nonetheless, police brought the case to prosecutors for consideration two times. In October, 2011, Alan Schneider, then the county prosecutor, declined to prosecute.

This January, Robert Cooney, newly elected prosecutor, said the sheriff’s department brought the case to his office to have another look.

Cooney said he would typically let any decisions made by Schneider’s administration stand unless new evidence had come to light, which had not happened in this case.

Nonetheless, due to the significance of the allegations, he said he agreed to have an assistant prosecutor review the case.

“It is a significant crime. It’s someone stealing from a charitable organization,” Cooney said.

However, while Cooney wouldn’t say he believes no crime was committed, he does believe that there is not enough evidence to bring a case to court.


Thibeau is frustrated that prosecutors would not take the case, especially this January, when he personally talked to a young prosecutor who was reviewing the case.

“He said there’s insufficient evidence to guarantee a conviction,” Thibeau said. “And my response was, ‘You’re not there to guarantee a conviction.’” The controversy at the VFW Post began after Jordan, who had been quarter master since 2005, reported confusing and seemingly inaccurate financial reports to members at meetings in June and July of 2010. The amount of money in the Keno balance he reported fluctuated wildly, Thibeau said.

Due to his investigative and financial background, Thibeau volunteered to conduct an audit of the Keno machine and other members voted to let him proceed.


One of the first things Thibeau learned as he dug into records was that Jordan inexplicably destroyed earnings reports from the Keno machine after he took deposits to the bank.

Jordan told police he destroyed the records because he didn’t think he would need them again.

Thibeau figured out how to get the Keno machine to produce weekly sales reports going back to when the machine was installed. Thibeau also got the bank records to find out what Jordan had deposited.

When Thibeau tallied what was deposited and compared that to the numbers from the Keno machine, he found that beginning on April 29, 2010 through Nov. 24, 2010, the amount missing from Keno deposits was $26,268.

The first week, $406 was missing from the deposit. The next week, $733. Some weeks, as little as $22 or $13 was missing. In one deposit, there was an overage of $162. In another, $6,974 was missing.


Jordan denies taking the money but he agreed that his bookkeeping practices were sloppy. And he said he believes money was embezzled, just not by him.

Jordan said one problem was that he didn’t regularly make deposits at the bank.

“We had never really worked with (Keno machines) before, so they weren’t deposited each week. Sometimes it was deposited every month,” Jordan said.

Jordan told police that a lot of people, including bar staff, had access to an office where receipts were often kept in an unlocked safe.

One bartender told the detective: “Overall, there was always a lot of money around the bar area and anybody could have taken it.”

Jordan said shortly before he was relieved of quarter master duties amid the investigation, he found out money was missing. He started making weekly deposits and he tightened the books.

“I knew I didn’t take it, so I instituted a weekly accounting,” Jordan said. “What I wasn’t doing, like I say, I did not know better because I never worked with it before.”

Jordan said Thibeau’s allegations are groundless.

“Since they couldn’t get anything on me legally, now they’re just going after my reputation, is what it comes down to,” Jordan said.


Jordan, though, agrees that Keno money went missing while he was in charge of it, just less than what Thibeau alleges.

“I will say there was money missing -- not the amount that they were saying, but there was money missing,” Jordan said.

He said Thibeau’s audit found more money missing than what was actually gone because at the time the post only used one bank account. By state rules there should have been a separate account for Keno. He believes that Thibeau’s analysis missed some Keno money that was mixed together with general fund money.

Jordan also said he believes he knows who took the money.

He said he wouldn’t say who in an interview, but he named a former bar employee to police, someone who he said witnesses saw playing Keno without paying. He also named another person, but the alleged embezzlement continued even after that person left the VFW staff.


Nonetheless, Thibeau, who was elected post commander in April, 2012, is not convinced of Jordan’s innocence.

He said someone playing Keno without paying would not explain the missing money.

He said he does not believe bar staff could have stolen the money, because if they had, Jordan should have noticed the discrepancy when he made the deposits.

Thibeau believes the case is simple and Jordan has managed to make it confusing.

“The machine tells you how much there should have been put into the bank; the bank account tells you how much was put into the bank,” Thibeau said. “The difference is what was stolen.”


This is a case where even the origin of the Keno machine is in dispute.

Jordan told the detective investigating the case that the Keno machine was brought in after a vote by the membership and that he was “saddled with it,” according to the police report.

That was contradicted by what Paul Smith, the then-acting quarter master, later told a detective.

“Doug Jordan and (assistant quarter master) John LeBrun were the two that wanted the Keno machine in the VFW,” the detective wrote of his conversation with Smith. “He stated that the two of them did this on their own.”

In fact, Smith told the officer that the membership had not even voted to install the machine.

Lebrun denied that -- he said the membership voted to install the Keno machine.

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