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Plea Deal Upsets American Legion

April 4, 2012, 6:00 PM by Derek Olson

Plea Deal Upsets American Legion

There's a plea deal between the state and a man accused of embezzling more than $75,000 from the Rapid City American Legion.

For pleading no contest to a felony conspiracy charge, Richard Kiewel will not face grand theft charges.  He is expected to receive probation and pay $4,600 in restitution, and that's not sitting well with the veterans' organization.

The Legion's district commander claims that his organization wasn't aware that a plea deal was being made.  But State's Attorney Glenn Brenner says that he did reach out to the group and that this is just a misunderstanding.

It's money that goes to fund programs that help benefit veterans, teach youth about government and support world-class baseball.  But in 2005, more than $75,000 disappeared.

"All that money goes to many programs for this community," American Legion District Commander Dennis Edwards said.

But the man accused of taking the money, Richard Kiewel, has pled no contest to a felony conspiracy charge and won't see any jail time.  It's a deal the Legion says was made without their approval and they're not happy about it.

"I mean, he affected a lot of people, not only the Legionnaires and their families, but the community," Edwards said.

But Pennington County's State's Attorney, Glenn Brenner, says that he consulted the group.

"We had a contact person and we made contact with that person and told them about the agreement.  Unfortunately, there was a misunderstanding and I think there still is," Brenner said.

Not only does the post's commander feel that the punishment in the agreement is grossly inadequate, he says that it misses the key thing that he was looking for: an admission of guilt.

"The thing that would be somewhat satisfactory is, number one, that Mr. Kiewel admit his guilt and say that he's sorry," Edwards said.

But Brenner says that, given the details of the case, this was the best outcome.

"Our goal is to make sure that he pled to a felony.  We did not give a misdemeanor.  We did not dismiss the case.  We did not lose it at trial.  It was a good outcome," Brenner said.

Brenner says that more information about why the deal was struck will be made public after Kiewel's sentencing on Monday morning.

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