I am writing to try to put to rest some of the rumors, stories, half-truths and outright false stories about the causes of Post 227 closing on July 20, 2018. Some people may not like what I have to say, but it is the truth, backed up by documentation I have, either in hard copy or electronic files.
First, the Post was doing well until two new members came aboard in 2009. One of those members did not like the way the Treasurer/Adjutant was handling the funds for the Post operation. Near the end of 2010, state Gaming Commission investigators visited the Post, and Inv. Gerry O’Brien shut the Post down. My wife and I were appointed by Gerry to work under his personal direction to locate all gaming records, tickets, reports, bank accounts, etc. We made copies of receipts, deposit slips, canceled checks and check registers. At his direction, I created reports, summaries and with the help of Katie, counted each box of tickets, matching them with the existing quarterly reports, noting any discrepancies for him. He came up with a very large shortage of funds that were either missing, not reported, etc.
About 2012 to early 2013, the governor decided to cut back on the Gaming Commission’s expenses, and Gerry and his co-workers were let go. They were replaced by two new investigators, Gary Grigalus and Tracy Rubino, who, still working with Katie and me, picked up where Gerry left off. In 2013, the findings were presented in court in Rochester, and a settlement was reached. We lived under those rules until noted below in 2018.
I was elected Commander in 2016. I served until the Post closed and the building was sold in September 2019.
To answer one of the stories being passed around in 2017 and after, I found we had only five of the original eight “ceremonial” rifles on hand. I decided to get the Sheriff’s Department involved to try to locate the other rifles when three happened to appear on my doorstep. I contacted the Army Depot in Georgia, and they helped me return them to the Armory there. These were .308 Bolt-Action Rifles, never modified to shoot blanks only, and I was glad to get rid of them.
I was reelected Commander for 2018. Knowing I would have difficulty filling the officer spots, I a started asking for volunteers to fill each office. I received no response. I posted sheets in the Post in May. Again, no response. At our June meeting, when voting normally takes place, I asked each member present if they would take an office; the only response was from the treasurer, and he had been treasurer for five years. Thinking I could get a favorable response if I casually mentioned we may have to close the Post. That didn’t work either, and the Post was closed on July 20, 2018.
With no one to help but my wife, all bills have been paid. The state Liquor Authority finally was satisfied, and when Tracy Rubino accidentally told me what our final balance was in March 2018, I started consolidating funds from the sale of some of the Post equipment and transferring funds from various accounts, and at the end of the third quarter paid off the remainder of the penalty started in 2013. Thus, the Gaming Commission also was satisfied.
Working with the Adjutant of the New York State American Legion (we know it as The Department), the disposition of the Post was discussed. He states that when the Post received its charter there was a stipulation stating that if the Post is dissolved or sold, the proceeds go to The Department. He said that each member who has paid their 2018 dues would be given a lifetime membership in the American Legion, or a PUFL as in “Paid up for life.” Those memberships would be paid from the proceeds of the sale of the building. The Department then would deal with the National American Legion about any remaining funds.
I do not know what the building sold for. I do not know what the new owner plans on doing with the building. Yes, he knows the monuments, statues and flag pole are owned by the Town. These were donated to the Village back in 2012 before it dissolved. The Town inherited them when they took over, even though we, the Post, maintained them until sold. Oh yes, many items of historical value have been donated to the Wayne County Museum.