Antonio Colmenares, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and the volunteer director of the Miami branch of the Florida Veterans Foundation, padded his bank account by selling thousands of ready-to-eat meals, blankets and sleeping bags donated for homeless veterans, state agents allege.
Prosecutors say that Colmenares sold off $300,000 of meals, blankets, sleeping bags, cots and backpacks that were donated to the Florida Veterans Foundation in 2015. They allege that Colmenares deposited $46,800 in a personal bank account, Task & Purpose reports.
“These donated items should have gone to help feed and warm veterans struggling to get back on their feet — instead they were sold to fatten the pockets of those charged with preying on the good intentions of others,” Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi lamented.
Colmenares was arrested and booked in a Miami-Dade jail on Wednesday, charged with felony first-degree grand theft. Another Florida Veterans Foundation volunteer, 60-year-old Antonio Sabatier, was also arrested and faces the same charge.
In recent years, Colmenares had built up a pristine reputation as one of Miami’s most devoted advocates for veterans’ issues. In 2017, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce crowned him Military Service Person of the Year. For this reason, investigators argue that the alleged theft was particularly heinous. (RELATED: Sarah Huckabee Sanders Keeps A Bottle Of Whiskey In Her Office – The Story Behind It Is Amazing)
Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen commented, “These items were donated with the express purpose to help our veterans who unselfishly serve our country… To take advantage of any opportunity that would benefit them is indefensible,” ABC Local 10 reports.