MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - A former treasurer for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) charity pleaded guilty Thursday morning in Midland County's 238th District Court to a third-degree felony charge of misappropriation of fiduciary property.
Edward Cano, 41, was sentenced to five years deferred adjudication and 200 hours of community service for his role in embezzling about $31,000 from the nationwide non-profit's Midland chapter.
He was also ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution, court documents revealed.
Local DAV leaders said Cano began working for the chapter in September 2009 and embezzled "massive amounts of money" during his five-year tenure as treasurer.
"We realized something wasn't right, but we [initially] thought [he had misappropriated] $5,000 or $6,000," adjutant treasurer Curtis McFarland said. "I started doing the audit and [the numbers] got big fast."
Cano may have embezzled up to $40,000, he added, although available financial records could only prove he misappropriated about $31,000.
The group's charter was suspended during the audit and investigation, according to Paul Reed, Commander of the DAV's Midland chapter.
"We nearly lost our charter," he said. "Our mission would have been nonexistent... There would have been a significant void in the community."
The national non-profit was founded in 1920 and is chartered by the U.S. Congress.
Chapters across the nation assist more than 1 million veterans and their families "through various means" each year, according to the DAV website.
The organization provides about 700,000 rides for veterans attending medical appointments and assists veterans with more than 300,000 benefit claims annually.
"We run on public trust," said Reed. "I'm glad we finally have some closure in the Cano case so we can move on."