Former treasurer admits to stealing from Bentonville veterans group

Posted: November 7, 2017 at 1 a.m.

BENTONVILLE -- A former official of American Legion Post 77 in Bentonville admitted Monday to stealing money from the organization.

Kim Emerson, who was treasurer of the post, pleaded guilty to theft of property.

Emerson, 62, of Farmington and Marvin Akers were arrested April 15, 2015, in connection with taking money from the legion's sale of a downtown building in 2009. The post sold the building for $176,850, according to court documents.

Akers was commander of Bentonville's post, and Emerson was treasurer in 2009, according to court documents.

Bentonville police were alerted of the financial irregularities on March 10, 2015. A check for $90,000 from the post's account was made out to "cash" on Sept. 24, 2009. Emerson and Akers signed the check, documents say.

In police interviews, the men said they divided the check for their work in the sale of the building and for saving the organization from having to pay a lawyer. Akers received $50,000 and Emerson received $40,000, according to the affidavit. Both men offered to repay the $90,000, the affidavit says.

The men told police a letter from the national organization gave them permission for the split. But the organization's national adjutant told police no one in the American Legion would have authorized members to be paid as described by Emerson and Akers. Post accounts showed another check made to Williams & Hutchinson, a Rogers law firm, for $2,734 about the time of the sale.

According to the affidavit, Akers received $55,446, including $50,000 from the check the two divided. Emerson wrote several checks to "cash" totaling $65,400, including the $40,000 he received from the check they divided.

The investigation found ATM withdrawals, including $4,261 from Cherokee Casino in West Siloam Springs, Okla., and $8,111 from other ATMs in Siloam Springs between May 2009 and June 2011.

Akers told police he made the casino ATM withdrawals and handed $100 bills to homeless veterans living under bypasses, women and children living in shelters and paid a woman's electric bill.

Circuit Judge Robin Green accepted Emerson's guilty plea and placed him on 10 years of state-supervised probation. Green sentenced Emerson under a state law that allows his conviction to be expunged if he successfully completes probation.

Emerson paid $40,000 Monday to representatives of the post. He also had to pay $1,320 in associated court costs.

The case against Akers has not been resolved. Akers, 53, of Rogers is charged with theft of property, a Class B felony. His jury trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 14.

Emerson is required as a condition of the plea agreement to testify against Akers.

NW News on 11/07/2017