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Air Force vet gets jail for stealing $5K from Somerset vets' group

| Friday, April 12, 2013, 9:24 a.m.

An Air Force veteran will spend one to 23 months in jail and was ordered to repay more than $5,000 she stole from a Vietnam veterans organization in Somerset County.

Lorrie Sue Fisher, 39, of Friedens, was sentenced Thursday by Judge John M. Cascio. Fisher had pleaded guilty in February to stealing $5,111 from the Somerset County Vietnam Veterans of American Chapter 587 where she worked as the group's bookkeeper for just over a month in 2010.

Public defender Michael Kuhn says Fisher is working hard to make restitution, and she apologized at her sentencing. “I know what I did was truly wrong,” she said, according to The Associated Press.

But Joseph Kennick, vice president of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 587 in Somerset County, doesn't buy Fisher's apology.

“I think she's really only sorry she got caught. For better or worse, no matter how you look at it, it's really a lowdown thing she did,” Kennick said.

“We put a lot of hard work into raising that money. It was devastating, because nine members left us afterward, feeling we should have watched it better,” he said.

The money was earmarked to buy flowers for the families of dead veterans and to help pay for a county courthouse memorial installed last year that had to be changed for lack of funds. Kennick said some of the money was used to assist destitute veterans during the Christmas holiday.

“We couldn't do that this last year because the money was gone,” he said.

Fisher was ordered by Cascio to spend one to 23 months in the county jail followed by three years of supervised probation.

Fisher admitted to writing nine checks from the group's account to herself without authorization and stealing cash, according to court documents filed by Somerset Borough police.

Kennick, 69, a Rockwood resident who is a 12-year member of the organization, said he became suspicious and went to authorities after he received a $300 advance for expenses to attend a state veterans convention in 2010.

“I usually only spend about $100, keeping tabs on my receipts, and turn the rest of it back in. I found out later that to give me the $300, she drew a check for $700 and kept the other $400 for herself,” Kennick said.

“It's a real shame all around,” he said.

Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or ppeirce@tribweb.com.

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