SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. - The 65-year-old embezzler met the bitter faces of his fellow Veterans of Foreign Wars. When asked if he had anything to say, Ed Sherman replied, ''I am very ashamed of myself.''
But then he quickly defended himself.
''I turned myself into the VFW,'' said Sherman. "They did not do this on their own. I turned myself in."
And Sherman did indeed plead guilty to stealing some $80,000 from the Sultan VFW Post where he was a member for 20 years, trusted to keep the books. The theft happened over five years. But Gerry Gibson told the judge Sherman never answered one question.
"None of us know," said Gibson, "why he did this."
He challenged Sherman to explain why, but Sherman left that to his attorney.
"He thought of himself as a fundamentally good person," said Public Defender Robert O'Neal. "And he thought of the uses to which this money was being put as fundamentally good uses, helping people in need."
But the judge said the plea agreement did not go far enough.
"I believe community service is in order to pay back the community as well as the VFW for what you've done," said Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Millie Judge.
These veterans agreed but they aren't convinced even a court order will make them whole.
"I mean we'll see some of it maybe," said Wilmar Donohue, Sultan VFW commander. "But I don't think we're gonna see what's owed us. And that's what hurts."
Sherman is to begin repaying the VFW post even while serving 100 hours of community service. He is to have all the money repaid in five years.