Posted at: 10/09/2012 4:19 PM
Updated at: 10/09/2012 10:13 PM
By: Steph Crock
(ABC 6 News) -- A former Austin Moose Lodge Administrator is now charged, accused of stealing thousands of dollars.
We've been following this story since last month, after getting a news tip. Now 35-year-old Ashley "Bud" Johnson is charged with forgery in Mower County Court.
Authorities believe Johnson, who is also a volunteer firefighter, stole more than $22,000 from the lodge. We spoke with the groups governor Tuesday in an exclusive on-camera interview.
"We first found out when he wrote a bad check to the DC Drifters for $1,700 and forged our names to them," said Moose Lodge Governor Ervin "Pete" Petersen.
That was their first clue, something they hoped meant nothing. "I couldn't believe it, I still can’t believe it and I’m just waiting to see what happens," said Moose Lodge Senior Regent Nancy Britt.
However, investigators are now saying it wasn't just one forged check. That Johnson is charged for forging dozens of checks and is accused of paying himself for the unpaid position as administrator.
"I can’t explain it. It's just a bad feeling all over in the lodge," said Petersen. They say it’s taking money that could’ve helped others. "We do a lot of charity work. I know that, that's why I joined it," said Britt.
"We trusted the fellow and to have something like this happen, we feel real hurt," said Petersen.
Though feeling betrayed, they say they haven't lost trust in everyone. "There's still a lot of dedicated people," said long time member Sally Michels.
They all said they'll keep pressing on. "We're going to keep the doors open, and keep on going, and be the Moose Club like we've always been, said Britt.
Johnson's membership with the lodge has been terminated. If convicted, he could spend time in jail. He's set to be back in court next week.