Before he was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison, Skeeter Timothy Manos said he was sorry.
Sorry for stealing money intended for the families of his slain colleagues. Sorry for bringing shame to the Lakewood Police Department.
“I’m sorry for what I did,” the disgraced former police officer said Friday in federal court. “I’ve dishonored pretty much everybody that I’ve ever liked or loved. I’ve dishonored my profession.”
Manos is married, the father of two children. He briefly referred to his family at the hearing.
“My kids, they always looked up at me as a hero and you know, I’m not that,” he said. “I wasn’t that. I just … I’m sorry. That’s all I can say right now.”
His apology didn’t help much. U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan gave Manos the maximum sentence. The decision followed arguments from federal prosecutors, who wanted the top end of time and got it, and defense attorneys, who argued for mercy and got little.
Manos, 35, entered a guilty plea to one count of wire fraud and admitted his underlying crime. He stole $112,000 in donations intended for the families of four Lakewood police officers gunned down in a Parkland coffee shop in 2009. He stole an additional $47,000 from the Lakewood Police Independent Guild, the union that represents rank-and-file officers.
Manos served as the guild’s treasurer at the time. He was fired from the police department in February, after his crimes were discovered.
He used the stolen money to buy toys: car gear, appliances, computers and a television. He bought tickets to Las Vegas. He gambled. He made a mortgage payment.
Federal prosecutor Robert Westinghouse underlined the magnitude of the betrayal as he argued for the maximum sentence.
“What Mr. Manos did has impacted so many different people and different organizations as to make every other criminal act pale in comparison when it involves the taking of money,” Westinghouse said. “He took the opportunity to benefit himself, to live higher than he could.”
Federal defender Russell Leonard agreed that Manos’s crimes represented a betrayal of trust, but he argued that the taint did not extend to the police department or the fallen officers.
“Those officers will forever be honored no matter what happens to Mr. Manos today,” Leonard said. “They are all in our continuous thoughts and prayers.”
Leonard also mentioned Manos’s history of public service: in the Marines, the Washington State Patrol and the Lakewood Police Department. Those factors deserved consideration, he said.
“Expressions of outrage and anger and revenge are human and understandable, but such factors cannot be the determining factor in reaching a reasonable sentence,” Leonard said. “Even those who he has hurt terribly by his actions see him as a good man.”
For a time during the hearing, the arguments revolved around Manos’s diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, a factor Leonard discussed at length, while saying it was no excuse.
After the sentencing, Lakewood Sgt. John Unfred, a member of the guild and treasurer of the Lakewood Police Officers’ charity, called the PTSD angle “a bunch of crap.”
Unfred spoke briefly in court before Manos was sentenced. At times, his voice shook. He held up his officer’s badge and showed it to the judge.
“This is my badge,” he said. “I wear it every day. It is the same badge my fellow officers wore on Nov. 29, 2009, when they were murdered in cold blood. Today there are still those of us who believe in death before dishonor. Sadly, this is not the case with Skeeter.”
Lakewood police Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens, and Greg Richards died that day, fatally shot by ex-convict Maurice Clemmons. An outpouring of public support followed, generating more than $3 million in donations.
Manos tapped that well, forging a colleague’s signature to gain access to an ATM card and the charitable accounts. His plea agreement included a promise to pay back $37,000 immediately by liquidating his police retirement account.
That wasn’t all the money, however. Prosecutors argued for more. Leonard said Manos intended to pay back every penny in time, but the tax penalties associated with liquidating the retirement money made the task more difficult.
“We would ask really for mercy on behalf of his children and his wife, that the court order no additional immediate restitution,” Leonard said.
Judge Bryan wasn’t satisfied. Manos had admitted guilt and accepted responsibility. That was good. He’d served the public. That was also good – but the money had to be repaid. His final order included a directive for full restitution. He didn’t spell out the details.
“I’m a little bit troubled by the fact that there’s not been a liquidation of assets and restitution made before now,” he said. “I think the full amount of restitution has been due for some time and it’s still due and payable, and I think it should bear interest. Mr. Manos has the opportunity to reduce that sum down immediately.”