The former president of a youth charity has pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars from the organization and spending the money on himself.
Allan R. Peschek, 75, of Tacoma, bilked the nonprofit Northwest Youth Leadership Conference Foundation out of $56,600 over the course of seven months in 2013, prosecutors say.
As president of the foundation, Peschek transferred the money to his personal account to fund purchases, including two cars, according to court documents.
The scheme was discovered last summer after Peschek withdrew $30,000 in one transaction from the foundation’s savings account and bought a Buick. When confronted by the foundation’s board, Peschek admitted to taking the money to buy the vehicle, according to court documents.
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The foundation has recovered about half of the money so far, said director Dave Gibson. Foundation members were “flabbergasted” over the theft and betrayal, he said.
“He pretty much just raided the savings account,” Gibson told The Olympian. “It really took a big bite out of our capability to carry on.”
The foundation handles funding for the Northwest Youth Leadership Conference, which occurs every June at Pacific Lutheran University. Between 75 and 90 high school students from across Washington state attend the annual conference to learn about leadership skills, patriotism and citizenship.
Sponsorships cost about $375 per student, Gibson said, so the stolen money was enough to pay for two years’ worth of conferences. More than 2,000 students have participated in the program’s 24 years, he said, noting that the foundation is managed by retired and active duty military officers.
Although the theft took place in Tacoma, where Peschek lives, the charity is registered in Thurston County, Gibson said.
Peschek declined to comment after Monday’s hearing at Thurston County Superior Court. Peschek has been charged with one count of first-degree theft, eight counts of first-degree identity theft, and one count of second-degree identity theft.
Judge James Dixon said prosecutors are recommending a sentence of 60 to 90 days of house arrest, six months of probation and restitution, because Peschek is a first-time offender. However, the charges normally carry a sentencing range of up to seven years, Dixon said. The court is expected to accept Peschek’s guilty plea at a hearing Nov. 4, with sentencing to be determined at a later date.