A former commander of the Sons of AMVETS in Maine is free on $400 bail after being charged with stealing $8,900 from the New Gloucester-based organization.

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office arrested Peter Ross Bragdon, 32, of Gray on Sunday on charges of felony theft. Bragdon made an initial appearance in Portland District Court on Wednesday and entered no plea.

Bragdon was commander of the organization but his membership was revoked in 2008, according to a club official.

His name remained on the group’s bank account and he continued to take money from the account after he was kicked out, the sheriff’s office said.

The money was taken from the account of the Department of Maine, Sons of AMVETS, which includes six squadrons around the state with a total of about 300 members, said Treasurer Jeff Hamilton.

The Sons of AMVETS is affiliated with AMVETS but includes men whose relatives have been in the AMVETS veterans organization.

The alleged theft came to light when the current commander discovered that checks used to pay the club’s expenses had bounced and asked Hamilton to look into it.

The group is planning a convention in June at Sugarloaf, and the money was to be used to help cover expenses, Hamilton said. The money came from members’ dues.

Hamilton would not say why Bragdon was banned from the club. He said the account has been restored, though he would not elaborate.

Bragdon was found to be indigent and therefore eligible for a court-appointed attorney. He and his attorney are scheduled to meet with prosecutors Aug. 16.

Bragdon has no criminal record, according to the State Bureau of Identification.

He is charged with felony theft, a crime punishable by as much as five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:
[email protected]