Man charged after $36K stolen from St. Louis-area veterans fund

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EUREKA, Mo. – A man is behind bars after he allegedly stole tens of thousands of dollars in funds intended to support a St. Louis-area veterans group.

St. Louis County prosecutors have charged Brett Leary, 42, with one felony count of stealing ($750 or more) in connection with the investigation.

Leary is accused of stealing more than $36,000 from the Gateway Warrior Foundation while he served as vice president. Investigators say his father found the organization back in 2014, and it aims to provide service dogs and other resources to wounded veterans.

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According to court documents obtained by FOX 2, Leary became vice president of the organization earlier this year “due to restructuring of the foundation’s leadership.”

The foundation kept funds in a bank account at a Commerce Bank branch in Eureka, but shortly after the leadership change, that account closed.

Court documents indicate that Leary opened a new bank account in Eureka and was given full authority to make online transactions. He reportedly had a debit card connected to the account and checks sent to his home.

At some point this year, the foundation’s treasurer requested bank statements from the account. The bank statement revealed that Leary had written several checks to himself, amounting to “several thousand dollars.”

Investigators say that Leary admitted to stealing funds from the organization, then offered a $36,716.44 check to cover the funds he allegedly misappropriated. Court documents state the check came back for insufficient funds.

Leary turned himself in to the Eureka Police Department earlier this month and was charged on Dec. 21. He had a criminal setting hearing scheduled for January 29, 2024, per Missouri court records.

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