Evaluation ordered in Kansas Honor Flight thefts

8/22/2013

GREAT BEND (AP) — A judge has ordered a psychiatric evaluation for the woman charged with the theft of more than $100,000 from a group that flew World War II veterans to see the National World War II Memorial in Washington D.C.

GREAT BEND (AP) — A judge has ordered a psychiatric evaluation for the woman charged with the theft of more than $100,000 from a group that flew World War II veterans to see the National World War II Memorial in Washington D.C.

LaVeta Dawn Miller of Great Bend has pleaded not guilty to two counts of theft by deception. Prosecutors allege she stole about $110,000 from the Honor Flight program.

The Great Bend Tribune reported Tuesday that Judge Dale Urbanek has ordered Miller to be evaluated at a Great Bend counseling center to determine if Miller is sent to Larned State Security Hospital for further evaluation.

Miller's trial has been delayed pending the evaluation.

She once led Central Prairie Honor Flights, which raised nearly $1.2 million for veterans' trips between 2008 and 2012, when the flights ended and Miller was charged. Before the flights stopped, nearly 800 veterans made the trip from Kansas to the nation's capital on flights chartered by the Great Bend, Kan.-based group. It pooled donations from everything from 4-H groups to children's lemonade stands to pay for the trips.

In 2012, the group canceled two charter flights that would have transported as many as 220 more veterans. Another group called Kansas Honor Flight sprung up, but the three trips it hurriedly organized on commercial flights included less than half of the veterans who would have gone on the chartered flights.

Miller began helping administer the Honor Flight program in April 2009 and was promoted to program manager in April 2011. Around the time the flights were canceled, Springfield, Ohio-based Honor Flight Network decided it no longer wanted the Great Bend group to help organize trips for the national network, citing problems with reports being filed late and a veteran breaking a rib on a trip.

In July 2012, Central Prairie Resource Conservation & Development, which oversaw the trips as one of its community projects, closed its Great Bend office and fired Miller because it no longer had the money to pay her $22,000-per-year salary. An investigation ensued.

Many veterans have been skeptical of the case against Miller, noting she didn't have a luxurious lifestyle and lived in a small, rented home and never seemed to have much cash, they said.

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