Former Bentonville American Legion commander pleads guilty to theft

Posted: November 10, 2017 at 1:06 a.m.

Marvin Dale Akers

BENTONVILLE -- A former commander of an American Legion post admitted to stealing more than $100,000 from the organization.

"Not everything is as it appears and I apologize to the court and the American Legion," Marvin Akers said Thursday after pleading guilty to theft of property.

The plea was under an agreement Akers' attorney, Wayne Williams, reached with Brynna Barnica, deputy prosecutor.

Kim Emerson

Circuit Judge Robin Green placed Akers on 10 years state supervised probation with Act 346 which means his conviction may be expunged if he successfully completes his probation.

Akers gave $1,000 to Ray Brust, the current commander of Post 77 and turned over the title to a 1990 pickup. Akers still must repay $121,142 to the post in $1,055 monthly payments. He also has to pay $1,420 in court costs.

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Akers' jury trial was scheduled to begin next week.

Barnica told the judge Akers stole more than $25,000 from the post between 2009 to 2011.

Akers, 53, of Rogers and Kim Emerson, 62, of Farmington were arrested April 15, 2015, in connection with stealing from the $176,850 the post received after giving up its longtime lease for a downtown building in 2009.

Akers was the commander of the American Legion's Riddle-Hutcheson Post 77 and Emerson was treasurer in 2009, according to court documents.

Bentonville police were alerted of the financial irregularities March 10, 2015. A check for $90,000 from the post's account was made out to "cash" 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.

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.

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.

Emerson pleaded guilty Monday to theft of property and he was placed on 10 years state supervised probation. Emerson gave the post $40,000 on Monday.

"If he (Akers) completes his obligation to the post and I think he will, then that part will be over for us," Brust said.

Brust said the post is looking to the future and focused on building membership.

He said the post now meets the first Thursday of each month at it space at the Center for Nonprofits in Rogers, but since they serve the Bentonville and Centerton areas they would love to have a meeting place in Bentonville.

NW News on 11/10/2017