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Gloversville VFW post may close its doors

Commander:?Debt, lack of revenue hurting operation

November 22, 2012
By LEVI PASCHER , The Leader Herald

GLOVERSVILLE - The Veterans of Foreign Wars Bernard Kearney Memorial Post 2077 will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday to determine if it should dissolve itself of its assets, turn in its charter, and transfer its members to another post.

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.

That veteran, Ralph VanAlstyne Sr., was ordered to pay restitution, but so far the veterans group has received nothing.

"We're not only in debt, we also don't have enough money coming in to pay the bills," Kevin Jones, commander of the post, said. "It is like any other business: if your expenses exceed your income, the business ceases to function."

Jones said the post canteen has experienced a decline in profitability and other means of producing income has not generated sufficient funds to cover its day-to-day expenses.

Jones also said attendance has been an issue. The post held a meeting Nov. 7 to discuss its financial difficulties and to develop a plan to improve its financial condition.

However, of the 213 members on the post roster, only 13 attended the meeting.

Jones said he has reached the limit of his ability to improve the financial standing without some major assistance from membership. Recruiting new members has been difficult and few members have had the inclination to fill officer positions, he 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 a 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 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 if the post were to dissolve, the assets would be transferred to the New York State Department Veterans of Foreign Wars. He also said any money received from selling the building would go toward paying outstanding debts from VanAlstyne's actions and general operation costs.

Any money from a future decision in the suit against NBT Bank would then go to the state VFW, Jones said.

If the VFW doesn't receive any restitution in the near future or more help from its membership, it will have to close the post, which is located on Third Avenue, Jones said.

Jones said if the VFW membership has a motion to dissolve at the special meeting, the voting members must be present to cast their vote either for or against the motion.

Levi Pascher covers Gloversville news. He can be contacted by email at



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