Top sentence sought for ex-Lakewood cop who stole donations
Federal prosecutors will ask a judge Friday to impose a high-end sentence on a former Lakewood police officer they say used an account set up for families of his fallen comrades “like his own personal piggy bank.”
Skeeter Timothy Manos pleaded guilty in March to a single count of wire fraud.
Manos admitted stealing $112,000 in donations meant for the families of four Lakewood police officers gunned down in a Parkland coffee shop in 2009. He also admitted stealing $47,000 from the Lakewood Police Independent Guild, the union that represents rank-and-file officers.
Manos, 35, served as guild treasurer at the time of the thefts.
He faces a sentence of two years, three months, to two years, nine months in prison.
Manos deserves the 33 months, federal prosecutor Robert Westinghouse wrote in a memorandum submitted this week to U.S. District Court Judge Robert Bryan. Westinghouse also intends to ask Bryan to order Manos to pay full restitution: $112,000 to the charity fund and $47,000 to the guild.
“As financial crimes come and go, defendant’s criminal wrongdoing ranks at the very top of despicable acts,” Westinghouse wrote. “Indeed, it would be difficult to imagine thievery that is any more brazen or heartless.”
Lakewood police Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Greg Richards and Ronald Owens died Nov. 29, 2009, at the hands of Maurice Clemmons, an ex-con with deteriorating mental health and a hatred of cops. Clemmons later was shot dead by a Seattle police officer during a manhunt.
Lakewood police set up a charitable fund to collect money to benefit the slain officers’ spouses and children. The public contributed more than $3 million.
Manos helped manage the fund and, according to his plea paperwork, helped himself to some of the donations.
Investigators said he used a debit card connected to the account to make more than $50,000 in cash withdrawals and to purchase travel, hotel rooms, show tickets and other things for his wife and himself.
“He stole to have more toys; he stole to have more fun; and, he stole to gamble,” Westinghouse wrote. “For example, he charged the Alaska Airlines Las Vegas tickets, the Bellagio hotel room, and tickets for a Cirque du Soleil performance for his wife and him though Expedia.”
He skimmed money from his colleagues’ union dues by writing checks against the guild account and depositing them into his own, court records show.
City Manager Andrew Neiditz fired Manos based on the recommendation of Police Chief Bret Farrar in February, just days after federal prosecutors charged Manos with 10 counts of wire fraud.
Some Lakewood officers were embarrassed to put on their uniforms in the days after the news broke of Manos’ thefts, Westinghouse said.
“He threatened the well-being of families who had suffered enormously; he victimized those who sought to donate to a worthy cause; he misled his fellow officers; and, he abused his position as a law enforcement officer,” the federal prosecutor said.
Efforts to reach Manos’ attorney, federal defender Russell Leonard, were unsuccessful.
Leonard filed his own sentencing memorandum this week but had it sealed by the court, records show.
Westinghouse had access to the defense memorandum and addressed it in his filing.
“Not unexpectedly, defendant has produced letters of support from family members and close friends,” the federal prosecutor said. “These letters speak to his difficult childhood and the emotional trauma that he has experienced throughout his life, first as a Marine and later as a Washington State trooper and Lakewood police officer. As with every criminal defendant, there are clearly positives about the defendant’s life and his accomplishments.”
Manos wrote a letter to the court saying, in part, that he began embezzling from the guild because “he needed to save his house after missing a mortgage payment,” Westinghouse said.
That might be true, the federal prosecutor said, but Manos did not stop stealing until caught and spent most of the money on frivolous things.
“He has violated two of the most sacred societal taboos – he stole from the needy and he breached the trust that the community placed in him,” the federal prosecutor said.