Former Skagit County Deputy Sheriff Sentenced for Embezzling from Law Enforcement Organization
Defendant Stole more than $30,000 from NW Police Detection Dog Association
A former long-time Skagit County Sheriff’s Deputy was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 60 days in prison and six months of home confinement with electronic home monitoring in connection with his theft of more than $30,000 from a police dog handlers organization, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. BRIAN A. LEHR, 53, of Sedro Wooley, Washington, was the Secretary/Treasurer of the Pacific Northwest Police Detention Dog Association. For at least six years, LEHR stole money from the organization to use for his own expenses, such as restaurant bills, hotel and event expenses, and even his cable TV and cell phone bills. By the time the theft was discovered, LEHR had stolen $33,641. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour noted the theft was a “breach of trust.”
According to records filed in the case, LEHR took his leadership position with the Association in 1998. The Association, which was founded by canine law enforcement officers, seeks to promote high-quality training of detection dog teams in the Pacific Northwest. LEHR had complete control over the Association finances, and there was little oversite. In 2013, LEHR prepared a financial report suggesting the Association had nearly $20,000 in its bank account, when in fact he had stolen all but $276.79. LEHR stole the money by simply making payments from the Association accounts to his credit card bills or cable and cell phone bills or by using the Association debit card at stores, restaurants, hotels, and event ticket sites. LEHR also withdrew cash from the accounts for his own expenses.
The thefts harmed the Association in ways beyond the financial cost. The Association has not been able to bring in trainers to work with narcotic detection dogs, and it has been unable to purchase equipment and update its website with information for members. The embezzlement damaged its reputation in the law enforcement community and hurt its efforts to recruit members in law enforcement.
LEHR pleaded guilty to wire fraud in December 2018.
The case was investigated by the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Friedman.