Published September 12, 2012
Lakewood police embezzler arrested again, charged with identity theft, forgerySTACIA GLENN
Skeeter Manos was arrested and charged with new crimes Wednesday, 10 days before he was to begin serving a prison sentence for stealing money from the families of four slain Lakewood police officers. Tacoma police took the disgraced former police officer into custody at Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound. His wife and two children were with him when he was arrested. During his fast-tracked arraignment, Manos, 35, pleaded not guilty to second-degree identity theft and forgery for allegedly stealing an accountant’s identity to try and cover up his crimes. Bail was set at $100,000. Before he was arrested Wednesday, Manos had been heading for prison after he admitted stealing $112,000 in donations intended for the families of Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens and Greg Richards. The four were gunned down Nov. 29, 2009, at a Parkland coffee shop. More than $3 million was raised for the families. He also confessed to embezzling $47,000 from the Lakewood Police Independent Guild, the union that represents rank-and-file officers. He was treasurer for the guild at the time and in charge of all financial documents. Manos used the stolen money to gamble and buy computers, a television, car gear and appliances. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with the fallen officers’ charitable account. U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan ordered him to pay back $37,000 by liquidating his police retirement account. He also was sentenced in June to 33 months in prison and was to report to prison later this month. “We’re not going to give him a free pass in Pierce County just because he’s already scheduled to do federal time for a federal crime,” Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said Wednesday. If convicted as charged, Manos likely faces three to nine months in jail. The maximum sentence for the two new charges is five years. “Our department has always wanted to see this former officer held responsible for all of his actions,” Police Chief Bret Farrar said Wednesday. The most recent charges stem from the police guild’s suspicion that a 2011 audit to see how it was spending its money was a fake. The guild requested the audit in May 2011 and within two months, it was posted online so members could access the document, which purportedly was prepared by Roy Ovist, an accountant who had worked for the guild in previous years. When Eric Bell became guild president months ago, he called Ovist’s office to ask for copies of the guild’s tax returns. Ovist told him he hadn’t done tax returns for the guild since 2005 and had not prepared the audit. Farrar then contacted Tacoma police and asked the department to investigate the alleged identity theft and forgery. Tacoma police were asked to handle the case to avoid a conflict of interest because Manos once worked for Lakewood. Detectives discovered the audit had been emailed from an address Ovist denied ever using. The emails eventually were traced to Manos’ computer, prosecutors said. Authorities allege Manos forged the audit to hide the fact he’d been stealing money from the union. He allegedly called the guild’s lawyer, pretending to be Ovist, and requested past audits so he had something to work off. Manos, who came to work for the police department in 2004, was fired in February after the thefts from the fallen officers’ fund were discovered. Although he confessed to taking the guild’s money, that charge was dropped as part of a plea agreement.