A 26-year-old former Boy Scout employee pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he allegedly stole $28,820 from the organization’s Verdugo Hills Council in Glendale.
Donald Thurman, who worked part-time in the council’s scout shop, faces five felony counts for identity theft, another five felony counts of forgery and a felony count of grand theft for stealing from the Boy Scouts of America, according to a Los Angeles County Superior Court criminal complaint.
Rick Williamson, the local chapter’s acting scout executive, said the council was “very disappointed” about the alleged theft, especially because of the ethics and values the Boy Scouts embody.
“We do expect they live up to that,” he added.
Outside the courtroom Friday, Thurman’s attorney, Martin Pines, declined to comment much beyond noting that the case was still in its early phase.
“This case is in its infancy at this point,” he said.
Thurman was arrested in September after police discovered he had stolen five checks from the Verdugo Hills Council sometime in November 2011, used another man’s identity to forge signatures on the checks and set up eight bank accounts with Wells Fargo Bank, Glendale Police Det. Jonathan Owen said.
The stolen checks included a $25,000 donation and dues from troop members, he added.
Scout members discovered the theft in March after the donor inquired about an annual donation receipt that was never received, Owen said.
Thurman allegedly used someone else’s identity to sign the checks and deposit them in bogus bank accounts for the Boy Scouts, Owen added.
Police obtained warrants to search bank records to find out who was depositing and cashing the checks, Owen said. They also reviewed surveillance video footage from the bank.
Detectives soon discovered that the account holder was also a victim of identity theft and had his identification stolen, Owen added.
Thurman, who’s on felony probation for grand theft, also opened credit cards and a cell phone line under the account holder’s name, Owen said.
The Verdugo Hills Council was insured for $25,000 in case of fraud, but it had to cover the remaining money that was stolen, Williamson said.
Soon after the alleged theft, Williamson said the organization established a set of practices for handling mail and finances to avoid any repeat incidents in the future.
A preliminary hearing for Thurman was scheduled for Dec. 20 in Burbank.
-- Veronica Rocha and Brittany Levine, Times Community News