A former VFW employee is charged with embezzling from the Mannford Post. Leaders at VFW Post 7441 said they were just a few months away from having to shut their doors completely.
They said former bar manager, Dana Blakeslee, stole thousands of dollars in a just a little over a year.
The sign on the door lays out the ground rules, quickly; you’re entering a place of honor, conduct yourself accordingly.
“It's kind of like a sanctuary to be amongst our brothers,” said VFW Post 7441 trustee, David Carter.
But, lately, the talk around Mannford's VFW is about the dishonor and dishonesty that court records say happened behind the four walls of the VFW.
“We trusted her,” VFW patron Vickie Burdick said. “It's a shame she had to steal from the veterans.”
Blakeslee is accused of stealing $35,000 over a 13-month period.
“She told us she cared about the veterans, and we found out at a later date that that wasn't the case,” Carter said.
He said Blakeslee altered and forged documents to get the money that would have gone toward helping veterans.
Navy veteran and VFW member, Jimmie Geiger said, “They're the ones that made this country.”
The VFW has a food bank that, Carter said, gives anywhere between 20 and 40 families food for the week; but, he said within two years of hiring Blakeslee, the VFW could barely afford to run the food bank anymore.
He said, as a result of the theft, the Post also had to drop its veteran's relief fund and could no longer sponsor children's clubs and community events.
"It was a lot of money that we could have done a lot of things here for veterans and our local community,” Carter said.
The VFW said an assistant manager noticed some red flags, and that's when an audit began.
We tried calling the number listed in court records as Blakeslee's, but it has been disconnected.
She's due in court Wednesday afternoon, but, according to court records, she admitted to stealing some of the money, but not all of it.