Former Marine Corps League Commandant Gets 10 Years Probation in $50K Embezzlement

by Braxton Taylor

MEDIA COURTHOUSE — A Swarthmore man who previously pleaded guilty to embezzling from the Marine Corps League was sentenced to 10 years of probation and ordered to pay nearly $50,000 restitution.

Former Delaware County Marine Corps League Detachment #228 Commandant Alan Staniskis was also ordered to perform 240 hours of community service and have no contact with the league or its members under the sentence handed down Friday by Common Pleas Court Judge G. Michael Green.

Staniskis, 52, entered open pleas to charges of theft by unlawful taking and conspiracy in June. He had also been charged with theft by deception, receiving stolen property and additional conspiracy counts, but those were dismissed under the plea agreement reached by Deputy District Attorney Douglas Rhoads and defense counsel Michael Malloy. The plea left sentencing up to the judge.

Staniskis was charged in February 2020 with former chapter paymaster Kera Kiss, who faced identical offenses for allegedly helping Staniskis cover up the thefts.

Kiss, 42, of Mullica Hill, N.J., entered into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program for nonviolent first-time offenders last month and will serve 12 months of probation.

The audit

The scheme was uncovered in October 2019, when Delaware County Detective Steven Cortese was contacted by Upland Detective Cpl. Andrew Nicoll.

Arrest affidavits indicate the league noticed missing funds during an internal audit completed in September and determined approximately $37,000 was missing. The audit had searched records between April 2018 and March 2019.

Investigators reviewed the nonprofit organization’s financial records at Wells Fargo Bank and discovered Staniskis had made $53,183 worth of improper withdrawals by check or by cash. League members told detectives that no one was permitted to make cash withdrawals from those accounts.

The investigation also uncovered four suspicious checks written to Staniskis from the league. Though the checks had been endorsed by proper league members, they had been blank when they were signed and Staniskis later wrote out the amounts to himself.

The unraveling

Further investigation revealed Staniskis transferred $1,400 from a league account to a mortgage account in his name in May 2019, and his personal bank account showed deposits made around the same time of the withdrawals from the league accounts totaling $15,338.

In an attempt to cover up the missing money, Kiss allegedly entered fraudulent balances in the ledger that would make other league members believe the accounts were sound. The fund balance entered by Kiss showed a higher amount than was actually in the account, according to the affidavits.

Both defendants were released on unsecured bail of $25,000 apiece.

Courtroom wrap-up

Rhoads said Friday that the total amount of restitution was $48,683, which will be paid to the league’s insurance company since it was an indemnified loss.

He urged Green to impose standard range sentences of three to 12 months on both offenses, noting this was a series of thefts from a league that was bounded together by service to their country.

Rhoads said Staniskis was placed in a position of trust that he exploited and violated for his own gain. That violation left other league members hard pressed to believe Staniskis was ever a Marine and questioning if his commandant position was not stolen valor, Rhoads added.

“It’s not just one theft, one mess-up, one mistake and one criminal scienter,” Rhoads said. “Rather, to accomplish a large-scale theft of approximately $50,000, it took repeated acts over several years where that guilty scienter is repeated again and again.”

Malloy asked that the judge impose a noncustodial sentence due to his client’s medical issues. He said Staniskis is a disabled veteran who received a medical discharge in 1994, and has been living solely on those benefits and Social Security disability ever since.

Staniskis will have to spend the first 90 days of his probationary sentence on electronic home monitoring and provide a DNA sample to state police. Green said Staniskis could petition the court for early termination if he has no violations after seven years and restitution has been paid in full.

“It’s my intention to give you every opportunity to make the Marine Corps League whole as a result of these thefts,” Green said. “That’s my expectation. I recognize also that you have a disability and I acknowledge that the community service probably, by reason of that disability, would be sedentary in nature. Nonetheless, I expect the community service to be completed in total.”

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