GLOVERSVILLE - Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Bernard Kearney Memorial Post 2077 met Wednesday and voted to shut down the post.
The post will dissolve itself of its assets, turn in its charter and transfer its members to the VFW Post 8690 in Broadalbin.
"It is it extremely unfortunate and sad but it was really the only choice we had," Kevin Jones, former commander of the post, said this morning.
Jones said the post closed its doors on Third Avenue for the final time at 10 p.m. last night after about 25 members voted to dissolve and transfer the members at large. Jones said it was nearly a unanimous decision.
If a member wishes to be a member elsewhere after 30 days they can ask for a transfer to any other post they want, Jones said.
The post has faced financial trouble for more than a year and has been trying to get back money embezzled by a veteran who was sentenced to prison last November. The veteran, city resident Ralph VanAlstyne Sr., was ordered to pay restitution, but so far, the veterans group has received nothing, Jones said.
Jones said the post canteen also had experienced a decline in profitability and other means of producing income did not generated sufficient funds to cover the day to day expenses.
He also said attendance has been an issue. The post held a regular meeting Nov. 7 to discuss the financial difficulties and to develop a plan to improve the financial condition, but of the 213 members on the post roster, only 13 showed attended the meeting, he said.
Recruiting new members had been difficult and few members have had the inclination to fill officer positions, Jones said.
VanAlstyne, who held positions of control at the VFW post, the American Legion post and the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 122, was sentenced to two to six years in state prison after admitting to stealing at least $186,000 from the three groups.
The court ordered VanAlstyne to pay the VFW $70,930, the American Legion $50,917 and the Disabled American Veterans $65,679.
The groups claim at least $300,000 actually was taken, but authorities could prove only the theft of $186,000.
Jones claims a lot of the money taken was in cash, so there was no actual record of it. The VFW says it determined the total based on previous profit margins.
In separate legal action, the VFW and the American Legion also are seeking $100,000 - $50,000 for each group - from NBT Bank. The groups claim the bank improperly cashed checks signed by VanAlstyne.
Since VanAlstyne's activities were uncovered, the VFW has had to pay thousands of dollars in back taxes to New York State Racing and Wagering, $12,000 to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and is in debt to private creditors for bills never paid, Jones said.
Jones said the bylaws of the VFW state when the post dissolves the assets will be transferred to the New York State Department Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Jones said at the special meeting, the members appointed a committee to act as agents to close out the business. He also said this committee will try to sell the building and its assets. If it is necessary to file bankruptcy, the committee also will take care of that. It is unclear if that will have to happen at this time, Jones said.
Any money from a future decision in the suit against NBT Bank would then go to the state VFW, Jones said.
Levi Pascher covers Gloversville news. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.