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State audit finds former Pierce County employee mismanaged thousands collected for veterans

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OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A state audit found a former Pierce County employee mismanaged more than $60,000 collected to help veterans.

The Thurston County prosecuting attorney just received the case and is reviewing the evidence.

Marian Sharkey served in the Air Force as a flight nurse and now volunteers to help fellow veterans.

"I think it's important because they served their country, they've given," said Sharkey.

A state audit says that the former Pierce County Veteran's Bureau leader mismanaged at least $62,000 of county money collected for veterans. It found the former manager also approved:

-- checks written to a local consignment store where is wife worked in the sum of $6,000.

-- checks to a vendor, endorsed by a friend with no documentation found that any veteran benefited at $6,000.

The audit also found he signed for about $6,000 worth of gift cards with no documentation to support veterans actually received them and his stepson using a donated vehicle.

"For a prosecutor, the first concern we have on cases like this is just the abuse of public trust," said Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney Jon Tunheim.

Tunheim's office just received a case for Pierce County and is now reviewing the evidence and will determine if criminal charges can be filed.

But for those like Sharkey, charges wouldn't be enough. They want to see some of that money returned.

"I think they need to pay back what they've taken," said Sharkey. "I think that's really important for them to feel that they're going to get back especially if they are in need and have had a hard time after serving."

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy issued a statement calling this former manager's actions "truly deplorable and shameful."

The Thurston County prosecutor says there could be a decision in the next couple of weeks.