Former Legion commander charged with theft

jkovac@macon.comApril 17, 2014 

Kenneth Maye

The former commander of a local American Legion post turned himself in at the Bibb County jail Thursday after a nearly monthlong investigation of the post’s finances.

Kenneth Maye, 59, of Stagecoach Lane in Crawford County, was charged with felony theft by taking. He was released from jail on a $4,050 bond.

On March 21, a Bibb sheriff’s investigator met with American Legion Post 3 officials, who alleged that Maye hadn’t deposited cash from the post’s gaming machines into the post’s bank account. Legion checks were also scrutinized.

On April 2, the investigator spoke with Maye.

According to the warrant for his arrest, Maye said he accepted a $5,200 check from an Armstrong Amusement representative.

“The Accused admitted,” the warrant states, “that the check was issued as the American Legion’s game machine liability payment and back up cash. ... The accused admitted that the monies should have gone into the American Legion’s business safe and/or SunTrust Bank. ... However, the Accused admitted that he kept the above monies after contributing his own personal funds to support the American Legion’s game machine payouts.”

The warrant goes on to note that Maye said he “felt the American Legion owed him that money.”

Legion officials told the investigator that Maye was not authorized to cash such a check or keep cash for personal gain, the warrant states.

The day after he spoke with the sheriff’s investigator, Maye told a Telegraph reporter there were “no dastardly things going on.”

Maye, who resigned as commander March 8, said the Thomaston Road post was out to smear him, giving investigators “half the truth.”

“I got thrown out the door because I was bold and brave enough to put women on my executive team,” he said, adding that he was also criticized for signing up black members, including former Macon Mayor C. Jack Ellis.

Maye said he and his wife had spent $40,000 of their own money to help veterans in the months since he became commander in July 2013.

He said there was no safe and no way of tracking post finances when he became commander last summer.

“I took over a ship that was nasty to start with,” he said.

Post officials could not be reached for comment.

Maye, after his release Thursday, said that when the gaming machines at the post “went upside down for $16,000, the Legion didn’t have any money. ... So I paid my own money.”

He said, “I had $5,000 of my own money paid out, and I kept bugging (the machine company) and telling them that I needed my money back, and they wrote a check to me. ... The machine company paid me my money back. The check was written out to me.”

Maye said he has been a member of various Legion posts for more than three decades. Last October, he and others at the Thomaston Road post trumpeted a veterans’ effort to erect a 228-foot flagpole to fly an 1,800-square-foot flag near Interstate 475.

“We want something that would make people remember all fallen soldiers,” Maye said at the time.

Maye’s name has been in the paper lately as investigators probed Legion finances. His picture also appeared in a CrimeStoppers ad for a theft charge, one involving a Legion check he wrote, that was later dropped.

On Thursday, Maye said, “It seems like I get an awful lot of press, which I’m enjoying really, to be truthfully honest with you. Because it’s all nonsense. It’s a bunch of big crybabies ... and bigots.”

To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.

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