Former volunteer charged with embezzling $350,000 from military charity

Staff report
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A former Colorado National Guard Foundation volunteer has been charged with embezzling more than $350,000 from funds meant to help struggling military families.

According to a May 7 statement from the Foundation, Ruthann Oppenheim, who served as the charity’s treasurer was suspected of the crime after board members discovered discrepancies during a Feb 2012 internal audit.

"We're deeply sorry this happened,” said Col. Andrew Meverden, chairperson of the foundation. “Our top priority is to protect the funds so that eligible Colorado families of deployed military service members continue to receive the help they need, when they need it. Fortunately no eligible military service member or family was turned down or didn't receive financial assistance despite the missing funds.”

Grants from the MFRF are intended to help families offset income lost from military overseas deployments and to defray the cost of food, housing, utilities, medical services and other expenses that may be difficult to afford when a family member leaves civilian employment for active military duty or is on active military duty in a hostile-fire zone.

"So many citizens want to help military families, and Colorado's Military Family Relief Fund makes this both possible and easy through a tax check-off," Meverden said.

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