Ex-Elks leader convicted of running phony raffle

Posted: Friday, August 27, 2004

VALDEZ - A former leader of the Elk's Club has been convicted of collecting money for a phony raffle billed as a fund-raiser for the Valdez High School wrestling team.

Tom Morgan, former Elk's Club exalted ruler, pleaded no contest last week to one count of scheming to defraud. He was sentenced to 20 days of jail time.

The charge followed a complaint by the Elk's Club in February. Members said Morgan in November organized a "split-the-pot" raffle on behalf of the wrestling team using the club's gaming permit.

Valdez District Court Judge Joel Bolger accepted Morgan's plea by phone from Kodiak.

Besides the 20 days jail time, Bolger reinstated a 15-day sentence Morgan had received in a 2003 case for a traffic violation. He also received five years probation, a $500 fine and 40 hours of community service.

He also has to make $2,820 restitution to the wrestling team.

Morgan said that he never meant to defraud anyone, but the situation "snowballed."

The incident became known in February when three members of the Elk's Club went to police with a letter submitted BY wrestling coach Paul Childs. The letter detailed how Morgan had approached Childs about a fund-raising raffle and offered to handle all the details.

According to charging documents, Morgan provided tickets for the team to sell for $20 apiece. The person who held the winning ticket would receive half of the funds, while the wrestling team would receive the other half.

Team members, another Elks Club member and Morgan sold tickets.

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