A former Algona interim police chief was charged Tuesday with stealing more than $7,300 from a police explorers program he created.
Lee Gaskill is to be arraigned Aug. 17 on charges of first-degree theft and abuse of office.
King County prosecutors asked that he be banned from communicating with anyone from the Algona Police Department or from the South Valley Explorers Program, which includes teenagers from Sumner and Pacific.
“The defendant has already demonstrated a willingness to interfere with orderly completion of the investigation by shredding large amounts of documents and removing other documents from his office after learning of the administrative investigation,” prosecutors wrote in court documents.
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Gaskill worked for the Algona Police Department for seven years before becoming interim chief in 2014. He worked as a King County sheriff’s deputy for eight years before that.
In February, accusations of “irregularities” surfaced, and he was removed as interim chief. Surveillance video showed Gaskill shredded documents and removed multiple files before he left.
City officials were concerned by his behavior and placed him on administrative leave. Then the theft allegations came to light.
Gaskill helped start the explorers program in 2008 and held a debit card because he oversaw the program, according to charging papers. The Explorers Program teaches teenagers about becoming a police officer.
Records show Gaskill bought items unrelated to the program at doughnut shops, restaurants and Bed Bath and Beyond with his program-issued debit card. An ex-girlfriend admitted he bought her a microwave with funds from the program, and 15 corporate sponsors said they donated money to the Explorers and were unaware Gaskill personally cashed those checks.
Investigators said Gaskill shredded documents and wiped his iPad clean after he was placed on leave, hindering the investigation.
When they served search warrants at his home, they allegedly found a home theater system he said he bought for movie nights with the Explorers. Participants said they’d never been to Gaskill’s house for movie night.
His wife told detectives Gaskill was saving money to buy a car for the program and offered them $19,000 in cashier checks that had been purchased with cash, documents show.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653