FONDA — Officers at a local Veterans of Foreign Wars post recently confronted quartermaster and treasurer Kevin Bishop, who has since been removed from both roles, after he allegedly stole more than $1,000 in funds. He stormed out of the building after denying any wrongdoing, the post claimed.
Ten days later, the Johnstown resident was formally charged with fourth-degree grand larceny. Bishop, 55, is expected to appear in court next month.
“There are other penal law charges that could be pressed, but we’re not going to up to this point unless something else surfaces, which I’m hoping it doesn’t,” said VFW Post 942 commander Tom Crosier. “As far as I’m concerned, the grand larceny that the state police charged him with — the only reason that happened is because he wouldn’t cooperate with paying us back the money that he owed us, so we had to go somewhere.”
Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, post officials noticed a hole in the budget after searching the books for traditional meeting hat purchases.
More than $1,300 in ATM withdrawals was discovered. While Crosier has determined that more money is missing, he hasn’t been able to prove any connections to the incident.
Reactions to the alleged theft vary. The post has 77 members in the area and across the country.
“There are some members that just refuse to believe it, which is fine,” Crosier said. “And then there’s other members that at first were shocked and awed by it, then were hurt and now they’re a little resentful.”
Assemblyman Robert Smullen, R-Johnstown, who served in the Marine Corps for more than three decades, condemned Bishop’s alleged actions. The Republican politician is currently a member of American Legion Post 337 in Broadalbin.
“I hope they can put controls in place that will make sure something like this never happens again, but it really hurts civic organizations when bad apples do things that are contrary to what the community of interest is,” said Smullen.
Gloversville’s former VFW Bernard Kearney Memorial Post 2077 closed shortly after former treasurer and post commander Ralph Van Alstyne Sr. stole more than $70,000 from the group, as well as well a total of $116,596 from two affiliated organizations in 2012.
VFW posts across the country have been increasingly vanishing amid a sharp membership decline, gaining little traction with 9/11 era veterans. Members can either buy a lifetime membership or pay annual dues.
In adherence to organizational policy, the post commander didn’t specify budget numbers. Some of that money funnels internal services, as well as community scholarships and efforts to feed low-income families during the holiday season.
“We just dig down deeper,” said Crosier. “That’s what veterans do.”
Bishop, still a member, isn’t allowed to enter the building. His leadership role was filled by Afghanistan veteran Steve Rivera.
Bishop as of press time hasn’t been reprimanded by VFW state officials, which yield the authority to suspend members.
“Just because he gave up his honor, if he needed help, he could call me right now and say, ‘Hey, I have this kind of thought process’ or ‘I need help in any kind of nature’ and we would still support him,” said Crosier. “There are some members that maybe wouldn’t, but with our officers, yes, he would get the help.”
Crosier hopes fundraising efforts will make up for some of the recent losses. Upcoming fundraisers include a Super Bowl party on Feb. 12 at 4 p.m; a paint and sip event on Feb. 24 at 7 p.m; a spaghetti dinner on Mar. 4 at 5 p.m; and a St. Patrick’s Day celebration on March 18 at 6 p.m.
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-527-7659 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TylerAMcNeil.