FAIRLAND — The investigation into missing funds at the American Legion has made its way to a small town in the far northeast corner of Oklahoma.
In August, former state Legion adjutant David Austin Kellerman picked up a $4,650 check for the sale of a closed Legion post in Fairland.
He kept the money, authorities have determined.
An investigator with the Oklahoma Veterans Affairs Department traveled to Fairland last week to interview the purchaser, Charles Mathis, and to get a copy of the check.
Mathis was able to identify Kellerman for the investigator from photos.
“He had several of him ... one off of his driver’s license,” Mathis told The Oklahoman. “He just said, ‘Is this the guy?’ ... Basically, I kind of picked him out as, ‘Yeah, I’m sure that’s the same guy.’”
Through such steps, bit by bit, state and federal investigators are working to determine how as much as $500,000 to $1 million went missing from the Legion’s Oklahoma headquarters. Some evidence has been gathered by digging through trash.
The investigation has focused on Kellerman, and prosecutors are expected to file a charge against him later this month.
He denies wrongdoing, his defense attorney, Scott Adams, said.
Kellerman already has been charged once as a result of the state and federal investigation.
He is accused in an embezzlement charge with taking ceremonial World War I and World War II rifles from Legion posts and selling them for personal profit.
Last August, Mathis had his suspicions about Kellerman.
“He wanted the check made out to him, which I did,” Mathis said.
“I questioned it,” Mathis said. “I questioned him. He said that he had to pay whoever it is with the American Legion people ... and he had to pay them in cash.”
Mathis, who is 83, said the closed post is next door to his home. “My wife and I thought of several things we might want to do with it,” he said.
Kellerman did keep the money, his defense attorney acknowledged.
Adams said Kellerman had written authorization to keep the funds from the sale as reimbursement for money the Legion owed him.