Former Veterans Service Officer Sentenced for Theft of Funds and World War II Flag
Columbus – A former director of the Pickaway County Veterans Service office was sentenced to three years in prison today and ordered to pay more than $19,200 in restitution for stealing thousands of dollars and a historical heirloom Nazi flag.
Rebecca Lee, who worked for the Veterans Service office from 1999 until 2014, was convicted Oct. 6 after admitting she used a county credit card to get several thousands of dollars for gambling and to pay for her grandson’s dental work. She was convicted of three counts of theft in office, one count of grand theft, one felony theft charge and a misdemeanor count of unauthorized use of property.
The flag is reported to have flown in a Nazi prisoner of war camp in Poland during World War II. Once the camp was liberated, the flag was autographed by several prisoners of war and given to POW Ernest “Snap” Ankrom who brought it back to Pickaway County. It had been in a glass display in the Pickaway County Veterans Service office until its disappearance in 2014. Ankrom died in 2009.
“There is a certain poetic justice in Lee being sentenced for stealing from veterans the week we commemorate Veterans Day,” Auditor Dave Yost said. “The theft of money is bad, but the theft of a personal heirloom makes it as personal as a slap in the face. Restitution is in order here.”
The case was investigated by the Ohio Auditor of State’s office and prosecuted by the Ohio Attorney General’s office. Authorities said Lee charged nearly $14,000 in unauthorized charges and cash advances on the county credit card between 2010 and 2014 and improperly collected almost $4,300 in mileage.
After her conviction, Judge P. Randall Knece revoked Lee’s bond. He encouraged Lee to return the flag before sentencing. Lee said the flag disappeared following domestic violence incidents between her and her former husband.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,900 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.