MADISON — The post commander of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars organization said Thursday that he plans to stay in office following his arrest earlier this week amid allegations that he oversaw illegal gambling at the VFW. The commander of the state VFW said the organization is conducting its own investigation.

“The individuals that caused all this stuff don’t want me in there, but they have no say in the matter,” said Louis Padula, post commander for Harvell-Bishop Post 7865 in Madison. “It’s the members of the VFW, not these certain individuals that never even served in a war.”

Padula, 71, of Anson, was arrested Tuesday on charges of unlawful gambling, tampering with a witness and falsifying physical evidence. Padula said after talking to his lawyer that he was limited in what he could say about the arrest, but he was critical of police and other individuals that he said were trying to make him look bad.”They’re not taking me down; they’re taking the VFW down,” he said. “They’re making it look like it’s me, but I represent the VFW.”

Ronald Smith, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Department of Maine, said the state organization could ask Padula to give up his duties as commander or turn them over to someone else while Padula’s case is in court.

“It’s kind of hard to give an answer as to what our protocol should be, because we’re not sure ourselves yet,” Smith said. “We have strict guidelines to go by, and right now my hands are sort of tied because he was arrested, but he hasn’t been convicted. I can’t really do too much yet.”

Padula has served as post commander for five years and has been a member for about 12 years. State police have been investigating the post since January after they received a tip alleging that illegal gambling was taking place, according to State Police Sgt. Michael Johnston.

Rachel Ohm can be contacted at 612-2368 or at:

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