The preliminary hearing for the woman charged with stealing more than $100,000 from Central Prairie Honor Flights got under way this week, but has been continued to April 10.
LaVeta Miller, former director of Central Prairie RC&D, once based in Great Bend, is charged with two counts of theft by deception. The state alleges that money was stolen from the program intended to give World War II veterans expense-paid trips to Washington, D.C.
Barton County Attorney Douglas Matthews called three witnesses as the hearing got under way Wednesday: a Great Bend police officer and the former president and treasurer of Central Prairie Honor Flights. Testimony continued until 4:30 p.m.
Matthews said he has more witnesses to call, but because of scheduling conflicts the hearing won’t be finished until next month.
Several more witnesses were subpoenaed, including a representative of Farmers Bank in Great Bend, who has been ordered to bring certain bank records from March 1, 2009, through July 31, 2012.
District Magistrate Judge Don Alvord presided over the hearing; Ellinwood attorney Robert Anderson is representing Miller, who remains free on bond.
Last year, the Associated Press reported as many as 100 World War II veterans missed their chance to travel to Washington to see their war’s memorial after about $110,000 disappeared from the Kansas nonprofit that organized free trips for them. Central Prairie Honor Flights was the largest trip organizer in Kansas and raised nearly $1.2 million for them between 2008 and 2012.
Flights were halted last year after money went missing from the group’s account. Then the Springfield, Ohio-based Honor Flight Network decided it no longer wanted the Great Bend group to help organize trips for the national network. It cited problems with reports being filed late and a veteran breaking a rib on a trip.
Miller began helping administer the Honor Flight program in April 2009 and was promoted to program manager in April 2011.
Last July, Central Prairie Resource Conservation & Development, which oversaw the Honor Flights as one of its community projects, closed its Great Bend office.