A 72-year-old Arkansas man accused of stealing $150,000 from a homeless veterans charity claims he took the money to pay off Bitcoin scammers who stole his identity and threatened to release digitally altered nude photographs.
Martin J. Svoboda II was arrested last week on three counts of theft after Arkansas Veterans Village, which provides transitional housing to homeless veterans, noticed a gaping hole in its accounts.
As reported by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Svoboda was the charity’s treasurer with full access to its accounts. Last December, he told police he’d taken $150,000 from the nonprofit.
Svoboda claimed he was blackmailed in October by scammers who had stolen his identity and threatened to post digitally altered nude pictures of him. They reportedly demanded a sum of bitcoin that Svoboda claims pushed him to steal from the charity.
The veteran’s charity president, Cindy Ford, told police that Svoboda had apparently been writing checks to himself since 2016 and detailing them as personal expenses. She also claims that he was forging the account figures to make it seem like none of the funds had been taken.
The alleged scheme was discovered after Ford was warned by the charity’s bank that one of the firm’s accounts was overdrawn by $7,000. It should have held between $63,000 and $64,000.
According to the affidavit, Svoboda says he used $41,000 of his own money to pay back the charity. He was jailed with a bond of $25,000 and he will submit his plea in a Benton County Circuit court on February 12.