Alaska Boy Scouts store manager accused of stealing $27,000

Tegan Hanlon

Police say the store manager at the Great Alaska Council for Boy Scouts' store in East Anchorage stole more than $27,000 in a series of fraudulent credit card transactions, according to court documents.

Michael Saunders, 45, started working as the manager of the store, at 3117 Patterson St., in February of 2009. In December of 2013, an Anchorage police detective, Anthony Pate, received a complaint of "suspicious circumstances" at the store from Boy Scouts management, said charges filed in district court.

Clifford Crismore, Scouts executive, reported that there were a number of transactions where items were sold from the store and returned a few days later. The store sells badges, uniform parts, program support materials and camping gear, according to its website. Crismore was unsure if money or merchandise had been stolen and said all of the returns and transactions occurred during Saunders's shifts, charges said.

Crismore told the detective that he first became aware of theft when a representative from Visa called and said there was a problem. A Visa gift card was refunded with credit to the Boy Scouts' store, but a purchase had never been made. Clifford said he found the gift card in Saunders's desk, charges said.

David Kline, the Boy Scouts' director of internal audit, flew from Texas to do an audit. In his written statement, Kline wrote, "Saunders routinely processed refunds to credit cards he personally controlled, including refunds to his girlfriend's card. He also routinely processed cash refunds that were fraudulent," charges said.

Kline examined 895 return transactions and found that 499 were fraudulent. The total loss was $27,293.79.

Saunders pre-indictment hearing is scheduled for March 13 at 2 p.m. He faces charges of first-degree theft, scheme to defraud and falsifying business records. Saunders is not in custody at this time.

Reach Tegan Hanlon at or 257-4589.