Cumberland veterans react to their veterans' service officer's arrest

11:29 PM, Sep 11, 2012   |    comments
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Mark Daniels

The man whose job it is to advocate for veterans in Cumberland County is now accused of stealing from them.

A grand jury has indicted Mark Allen Daniels of Crossville on one count of theft over $10,000.

According to Deputy District Attorney Gary McKenzie, Daniels had been soliciting money for veterans through fundraising and allocation from county commission.  He was supposed to be putting that money into a bank account that would be used to help veterans.
However, McKenzie says all the money that was collected wasn't there.  He believes Daniels either didn't make deposits or withdrew the money and used it for his own benefit

The indictment covers thefts between the dates of October 1, 2010 and June 15, 2012, but McKenzie says it's an ongoing investigation and other past records are being looked at.

Cumberland County veterans are shocked by the arrest. Many praise the work Daniels has accomplished in his tenure.

"He did a lot for the community, for the veterans. He was at every event in the entire Cumberland County area," said Jack Fogel, a veteran. "I feel hurt that something like that would happen in the community."

"Mark's gone above and beyond to help the veterans for what I can say for myself and veterans I know," said Charles Frank, a veteran.

Frank has worked with Daniels for four years. "He helped me with all my paper work, helped me to get medical care through the VA," he said.

McKenzie could not discuss what exactly the money in the bank account was supposed to be used for, only that it was meant to help veterans.

"Being an Iraq war veteran, I understand allegations such as this can bring high emotions and media attention. General Randy York and myself feel it is important to note that all defendants are presumed innocent until a Jury determines otherwise and we look forward to presenting our evidence in a court of law," said McKenzie.

Another veterans' service officer is filling in for Daniels.  Ruby Harris says everything is operating normally at their office, and veterans can still call with questions and apply for benefits and other services as normal.

Veterans say with all the good that's come from this office, they hope the bad accusations do not bring it down.

"We've got thousands of veterans in Cumberland County that are serviced by that office and we cannot let that office fail," said Fogel.

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