Retired Colonel James Burnes Pleads Guilty to Charges in $2 Million Military Charity Theft
Retired Colonel James Burnes pleaded guilty today to two felonies related to thefts totaling $2 million -- from charities. Military charities.
According to a court spokesperson, Burnes entered a guilty plea for two of the initial eight charges for stealing the money that was supposed to go to military families.
Instead, Burnes apparently thought a better use of the funds would be for his gambling habits.
Burnes was working as a resource manager with the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs when he began diverting funds from two Arizona National Guard Charities, according to the Attorney General's Office.
Attorney General Tom Horne said the purpose of the funds Burnes was stealing from -- the Arizona National Guard Family Emergency Fund and the Arizona National Guard Emergency Relief Fund -- was stealing from was to "assist needy service men and women and their families."
More specifically, the AG's office says the funds used to "assist needy service members and the families with rent and mortgage payments; food and utilities; essential transportation and vehicle repair; emergency travel expenses; medical expenses; and personal needs when pay is delayed or stolen."
Both funds are private, nonprofit charitable organizations.
The discovery of the missing cash forced the funds do delay requests by soldiers' families for more than four months, but they're both up-and-running now.
The AG's office said Burnes was stealing several thousand dollars a week for gambling over a period of four years, starting in 2007.
Burnes, a 66-year-old Tempe resident, is scheduled to be sentenced on March 28.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.
- Critics Try to Shut Down Arizona's Hickman's Eggs Plant with EPA Complaint
Thu., Oct. 15, 7:00pm
Sat., Oct. 17, 7:00pm
Sat., Oct. 24, 6:30pm
Mon., Oct. 26, 2:15pm
- Maricopa County to Investigate Death of Salt River Wild Horse as Animal Cruelty
- Another Major Anti-Islam Rally Planned for Phoenix This Weekend