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Disabled Vet Admits to Stealing $100k from Other Disabled Vets - Eric Alvarez

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A disabled veteran admitted to stealing more than $100,000 in 2010 from a non-profit set up to help other injured service members.

Thomas Keller, former treasurer for Disabled American Veterans pleaded guilty to stealing from the organization inside a Davidson County criminal court Friday.

That takes despicable to a new level, said Clay Phillips the organizations chief of staff.

Phillips says Disabled American Veterans helps more than 70,000 Tennessee vets find housing, counseling, and file their claims.

But where did the money go?

It's hard to say, Phillips said.  We do know that during that time, he was living in a pretty nice house, he was driving a pretty nice car and he was riding a pretty nice motorcycle and had no job to speak of.

Phillips says Keller is a disabled veteran himself, who knew how much damage he was doing to his fellow vets.

"Part of the finances that were stolen would have been used to pay salaries for our hospital service coordinators that work in each one of the VA medical centers, Phillips said.

Phillips says the ordeal left the organization on the verge of bankruptcy.

They're only now starting to recover.

But this story has one final twist.

Phillips says, the betrayal came from more than a co-worker...it came from a friend.

I'm the godfather of one of [Kellers] daughters and I take that really personally so the violation of trust is more than professional, Phillips said.

Keller refused to comment on the case.

The theft conviction carries a sentence of 8 to 12 years.  A judge will decide Kellers future in a sentencing hearing June 6th.


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