DENVER (CBS4)– Denver prosecutors have filed felony theft and forgery charges against a former employee of Colorado’s American Legion headquarters. They allege that Desiree Noechel stole about $150,000 from the veterans organization.
A CBS4 Investigation reported in September the veterans group was missing more than $100,000 and the theft was thought to be an inside job.
“This was no break-in, this was very sophisticated,” said the American Legion’s Tom Bock. “It was an insider that acquired trust.”
Noechel, 34, was a bookkeeper for the American Legion’s Colorado headquarters. The missing money was discovered in June following a routine financial audit.
Court documents show Noechel, who lives in southern Colorado, is facing charges of felony theft between $100,000 to $1,000,000 and a charge of felony forgery. CBS4 has attempted to reach Noechel via email but has not heard back.
Prosecutors allege Noechel wrote American Legion checks to a company she owned.
“It hurts,” said Bock, knowing that another military veteran was the suspect in the case.
In a 2018 American Legion profile, Noechel said she wanted to “push forward with this organization because I saw the value in it.”
Noechel was an Army Private from 2005-2010, according to her online profile. Court records show Noechel is free on a personal recognizance bond. The American Legion has about 21,000 members in Colorado spread across 160 posts. Member dues and donations help fund the organization which helps military veterans with housing, food and scholarships.
Bock told CBS4 the Legion filed a claim with its insurance carrier over the missing money and has been told they will be covered, so ongoing programs should not be impacted by the theft, which took place over the course of about a year.