Masons treasurer pleads guilty to ID theft

Agreement requires repayment of $800,000

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

 

A former mortgage adviser admitted Wednesday to embezzling nearly $800,000 from the Vancouver Masonic Temple while serving as the organization's treasurer.

In an agreement with prosecutors, Jesten Jay Galland III, 47, of Vancouver pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to nine counts of second-degree identity theft and agreed to repay the organization as part of his restitution.

Standing in front of Judge Greg Gonzales, Galland said: "My actions betrayed my friends' trust, and I humbly request their forgiveness and appreciate the graciousness of individual friends, who had been hurt by my actions, showed me in the days after my actions first came to light."

Several Masons were in the courtroom's public gallery for the hearing.

In exchange for Galland's guilty plea, Deputy Prosecutor Michelle Nisle dismissed seven counts of first-degree theft, seven counts of first-degree identity theft, 16 counts of forgery, eight counts of unlawful possession of payment instruments and eight counts of money laundering. Nisle negotiated the agreement with Galland and his attorney, W. Todd Pascoe.

Galland is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 10. He faces 33 to 43 months in prison.

According to court documents, Galland was elected as treasurer of the Vancouver Masonic Temple's board of trustees in 2006 and by the end of that year began using the organization's account to write checks to himself.

During a six-year period, he used the organization's account to write hundreds of checks to himself and his company, Jay Galland Consulting, totaling nearly $800,000.

The money was intended for maintenance, including insurance and taxes, of the Vancouver Masonic Center, 2500 N.E. 78th St. Vancouver Masonic Temple owns the center, which is used by Masonic groups and youth groups for social and charitable activities.

David Daily, a temple board member, first noticed the theft in March after discovering that the organization hadn't paid its property taxes, court documents say.

Daily then found that as of December, the organization's Edward Jones investment account balance was zero, down from its highest balance in December 2006 of nearly $1.3 million.

To conceal his activities, Galland fabricated the account balance on the treasurer's report, which was regularly submitted to the board of trustees, court documents say.

He also failed to pay many of the organization's financial responsibilities, including taxes and corporation fees, according to investigators.

The damage from the theft continues to reverberate at the center. Last month, the organization started a Saturday farmers market — 78th Street Market — to help pay for the center's insurance and taxes.

The financial loss also has detracted from the organization's charitable projects, including contributions to Shriners Hospitals for Children and suspension of the temple's youth scholarship fund, organization leaders say.

"Worst of all, he has stolen from the community in which Masons try to make a positive contribution to every day," according to a victim's impact statement the Masons filed with the court.

Galland has been in custody at the Clark County Jail since May 30.