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News / Clark County News

Vancouver woman stole $153K from Salmon Creek American Legion Post, according to state gambling commission

The former manager of the Legion faces theft and forgery charges

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: June 13, 2024, 1:25pm

A Vancouver woman is facing theft and fraud charges after investigators say she stole more than $150,000 from Salmon Creek American Legion Post 176, according to the Washington State Gambling Commission.

Rene H. M. Cavenaile, 64, is charged in Clark County Superior Court with one count each of first-degree theft and forgery and two counts each of second-degree theft and violations relating to fraud, deceit or gambling activities. She is scheduled to make her first court appearance on a summons Aug. 13.

On Dec. 5, Washington State Gambling Commission agents conducted a routine compliance inspection at the American Legion Post, 14011 N.E. 20th Ave., in Salmon Creek.

Staff told the agents they’d have to contact Cavenaile for access to accounting records, according to a probable cause affidavit.

When the agents contacted Cavenaile, they said she appeared nervous and frustrated and searched for the records. When she provided the inspectors with some records, they noted several transfers out of the organization’s pull-tab gambling account to other accounts. Cavenaile told the agents she’d have to get information from the bank statements at a later date. She asked to leave to care for a sick family member, according to court records.

On Dec. 6, staff from the Legion told agents they’d received a text from Cavenaile, who started as the Legion manager in December 2021, saying she’d been stealing from the organization’s gambling accounts and that the “Gambling Commission would find out the truth today,” according to the affidavit.

Legion staff said after agents left Dec. 5, Cavenaile sent a group text saying: “I have started this text so many times and still don’t have the right words. I have a serious gambling problem that led me to do the unthinkable, by taking from the mouth that feeds me. I tried to stop but the urge was too strong for me … I have no desire to embarrass my family and face the people that trusted me,” according to the affidavit.

After obtaining a search warrant in January, inspectors found 136 unauthorized transfers from nine different Legion accounts to Cavenaile’s personal accounts between April 2022 and December, totaling $153,590, according to the state gambling commission. She is also accused of making 53 unapproved personal purchases using a Legion credit card issued to her.

Staff said that when they’d asked her to see some accounting information, Cavenaile would always come up with an excuse or would only show them partial information, according to court records.