A former resident of Leasburg and member of the Missouri National Guard was arrested earlier this week on forgery charges, after law enforcement officers said they believe the man was misrepresenting the Wounded Warrior Project and pocketing donations.
Andrew James Fortner, 33, who is formerly from Leasburg, and now is in the process of moving to Pierce City, was arrested at the Cuba Police Department Tuesday, Nov. 26.
He was transported to the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department where he has been incarcerated on an arrest warrant for two counts of forgery, a class C felony, in Phelps County according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.
In October of this year, the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department was notified of an individual who had been collecting donations for the Wounded Warrior Project and possibly using the funds for his own gain.
Detectives with the sheriff’s office opened an investigation. With the assistance of an investigator from the Phelps County prosecuting attorney’s office, the Missouri Information Analysis Center, the Department of Defense Investigative Services and a number of other law enforcement agencies, the individual was identified as a member of the Missouri National Guard.
A probable cause statement filed with the 25th Circuit Court states that Fortner was observed and photographed on Oct. 12 around 7 p.m. soliciting funds while representing the Wounded Warrior Project at a portable table inside the doors of the St. James Country Mart.
A second, near identical, occurrence at the same location was found of business surveillance systems dated Oct. 6, 2013, between 1:25 p.m. and 7 p.m., according to court documents.
“Prominently displayed on the table were two large plastic jars bearing a trademarked logo of the Wounded Warrior (Project). Inside the jars were U.S. currency and coin donations. Also on the table were flyers with the same logo and other items being exchanged for donations,” court documents stated.
Legal representatives with the Wounded Warrior Project were contacted, who advised that the logos on the table, “although similar, were not proper and the font for all printing of the logos and flyers were incorrect,” according to court documents.
The news release from sheriff’s office stated that “after careful coordination with the Wounded Warrior Project in Jacksonville, Fla., it was determined the subject had not made any donations on his, or anyone else’s behalf.”
The charges filed against Fortner are based on his use of writings, namely the trademarked logos of the Wounded Warrior Project as well as flyers from the same organization.
The sheriff’s office stated that “Fortner had used the same ploy in a number of other jurisdictions and charges are being considered there also.”
Page 2 of 2 - Fortner was being held on a $100,000 cash or surety bond.
The Wounded Warrior Project is an organization whose mission is stated as “To honor and empower Wounded Warriors.”
Its stated purpose is to raise awareness and enlist the public's aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured service members aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.