A former mortgage adviser was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for embezzling nearly $800,000 from the Vancouver Masonic Temple while serving as the organization’s treasurer.
Just before Jesten Jay Galland III, 47, was sentenced, the organization’s leaders revealed that the monetary loss from his thefts has forced them to put the Vancouver Masonic Center, 2500 N.E. 78th St., up for sale.
“That building is not really financially viable right now,” said Leigh Cahill, master of Washington Lodge No. 4. “That doesn’t mean there won’t be a Masonic Center. It just won’t be that building.”
Washington Lodge No. 4 is one of four Masonic lodges that call the center home. The others are Mount Hood Lodge No. 32, Ridgefield Daylight No. 237 and Vancouver No. 47 — Prince Hall Mason.
About 30 people associated with the Masonic Center attended Galland’s sentencing hearing Wednesday. Those who spoke asked the judge to give Galland the maximum sentence allowed by the law. They also described some of the ripple effects of Galland’s crimes.
In addition to selling the Masonic Center, Masons have been unable to fund their college scholarship programs and charitable contributions, including to the Shriners Hospitals for Children, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Relay for Life, youth groups and local high school fundraisers, Cahill said.
“He always came across to me as a model of what I wanted to be,” Mason Steven Thompson said of Galland. “That trust is now violated.”
Galland faced up to three years and seven months in prison for the crime. However, Deputy Prosecutor Michelle Nisle agreed to recommend the three-year sentence and to dismiss 46 charges in exchange for Galland’s admission of guilt.
Galland pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court on Aug. 27 to nine counts of second-degree identity theft and agreed to repay the $800,000 he stole in the form of restitution. The dismissed charges included 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.
Judge Greg Gonzales said that in deference to the hard work of Nisle and Galland’s defense attorney, W. Todd Pascoe, he would reluctantly follow the recommended sentence of three years.
“You were there to lead, to organize these people, and you let them down by your conduct,” Gonzales told Galland.
Mason Jonathan Gill said the sentence was too lenient.
“Restitution is a joke,” Gill said. “We’ll never get that money back.”
Gill, who is an attorney, said the organization’s leadership may consider taking civil action against Galland.
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, according to court documents.
During a six-year period, he stole nearly $800,000, which went to him and his company, Jay Galland Consulting. The money was intended for maintenance, including insurance and taxes, of the Vancouver Masonic Center. Vancouver Masonic Temple owns the center, which is used by 13 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 also found out 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. At the same time, he failed to pay many of the organization’s financial responsibilities, including taxes and corporation fees, according to investigators.
Last month, the organization started a Saturday farmers market — 78th Street Market — to help support the center, but the enterprise has not generated enough money to keep the building viable, Cahill said. Clark County has assessed the taxable value of the property at nearly $900,000, but market value is typically greater than the taxable value.
For information about how to help the Vancouver Masonic Temple, visit www.vancouvermasoniccenter.org