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American Legion is investigating Oklahoma operations

The American Legion’s inquiry about missing funds could result in the ouster of Oklahoma leaders.
Oklahoman Modified: February 24, 2014 at 11:00 pm •  Published: February 24, 2014

The American Legion national headquarters is investigating its Oklahoma offices because at least $100,000 was embezzled from there, The Oklahoman has learned.

The investigation comes after the former Oklahoma American Legion adjutant was charged in January with selling ceremonial World War I and World War II rifles for his own personal profit.

The outcome of the investigation could be as drastic as the ouster of the state department’s entire current leadership.

“We won’t know more until after the visit and (a) report is completed and adopted by our board of directors in May,” said Joe March, media director for The American Legion national headquarters.

Three members of The American Legion’s board of directors and the national finance director will travel to Oklahoma City next month to hold a closed-door, fact-finding hearing, the media director told The Oklahoman.

The American Legion is a patriotic veterans organization that has more than 2.4 million members in 14,000 posts worldwide.

The Oklahoma department had almost 28,000 members in 2008-2009, according to the state website.

The media director said the closed-door hearing will be held because of “number of concerned member reports,” the arrest of the former adjutant and some accounting irregularities.

Also, “there have been a number of instances where new member cards and payments were not submitted to national headquarters in a timely fashion during the past year,” he said.

No one has been charged with embezzlement over the missing funds.

Prosecutors at the Oklahoma attorney general’s office are focusing on the former adjutant, David Austin Kellerman, 43, of Mustang.

Kellerman already is charged with embezzlement as a result of the investigation into the sale of ceremonial rifles.

Kellerman was charged after a gun collector reported buying 39 ceremonial rifles from him. “He’s denying it,” said his attorney, Kevin Krahl.

“He’s denying he did anything wrong.”

Prosecutors with the attorney general’s office filed the felony charge in Canadian County District Court.

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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