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Press Release

Edmonds Man Convicted of Wire Fraud and Embezzlement for Stealing from Non-Profit Sea Cadet Program

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Used Money for Personal Expenses Instead of Training Events and Programs

          A 49-year-old Edmonds, Washington man who defrauded the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps (NSCC) of more than $50,000 was convicted today in U.S. District Court in Seattle following a four-day jury trial, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  MICHAEL NOEL LEIGHTON was convicted of four counts of wire fraud and one count of embezzlement.  The jury deliberated about two hours before returning the verdicts.  U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly scheduled sentencing for February 22, 2018.


            According to records filed in the case, in 2011 LEIGHTON volunteered to become a training officer for a local NSCC unit based in Skagit and Snohomish Counties.  In this role LEIGHTON was to organize and implement training opportunities for teen-aged students, called Sea Cadets.  The program was funded by federal grants from the U.S. Navy to the NSCC.  In addition, the Sea Cadets and their parents paid fees to participate in the programs.  LEIGHTON and a family member had control of the bank account for the program.  Between October 2011 and December 2012, LEIGHTON withdrew thousands of dollars for his personal expenses including meals, gas and the purchase of firearms and firearms accessories.  Such purchases were not allowed under the program. 


            The Naval Sea Cadet Corps asked LEIGHTON for audit reports and receipts for his spending.  In response, LEIGHTON provided fraudulent reports, attempting to cover up his illegitimate spending.  When the new volunteer leaders of the group took over they discovered items purchased with the funds were missing.  In the storage locker they found a few inexpensive furniture pieces, several uniforms, and camping gear.  The expensive cameras, copiers and computers, as well as a number of firearms that LEIGHTON had purchased with NSCC funds were missing.


            The case was investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Seungjae Lee and Stephen Hobbs.


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated November 17, 2017

Financial Fraud