Stanwood Freemason treasurer accused of stealing from widow, orphan fund

STANWOOD, Wash. — Police believe a treasurer at the Stanwood Freemason stole tens of thousands of dollars.

To become a member of the Freemasons, people must show good moral character and believe in a higher being.

Yet in Stanwood, Dennis Withers is charged with a serious crime.

Prosecutors said he used his position as a Freemason treasurer to steal $23,000 from the organization, adding that the money was meant to help widows of Freemason members who had died.

According to court papers, whenever a group member passes away, their widows are sent a check for $1000.

Withers is accused of taking that money for himself and building a garage.

Members of the organization didn’t want to talk to KIRO7 on camera.

In a statement, the Freemason’s Grand Master of Washington, Chris Coffman, confirmed the charges against Withers.

“We are deeply saddened by these allegations, as this fund was created to assist widows and orphans. We will allow the legal process to take its normal course,” Coffman wrote to KIRO7.

Withers’ case is causing even more intrigue for a famously mysterious organization.

A few years ago, members told CBS News part of the allure of being a Freemason is its secretive nature.

“You know there’s ritual, but you don’t know what it is,” one Freemason member said in 2014. “That’s the reason people join the Freemasons and not the Rotarians.”

Withers is accused of first degree theft.

According to court papers, Withers never denied stealing money from the Freemasons and insisted he planned to pay back the money he’s accused of stealing.