ALFRED – Ryan J. Byther, age 36, of Scarborough, was sentenced yesterday for stealing $50,000 from the American Legion Post 56 of York, Attorney General William J. Schneider announced.

York County Superior Court Justice O’Neill sentenced Byther to five years of incarceration with all but six months suspended, three years of probation, and restitution in the amount of $50,000.

After a two-day trial last February, a jury returned a guilty verdict on a one-count indictment that charged Byther with class B theft by deception.

Byther, a general contractor working for the American Legion on a new building project in early 2008, represented to legion officials that he was an experienced professional fundraiser and could manage their $2 million fundraising campaign. Evidence introduced at trial showed that Byther had no fundraising experience and had never been licensed as a professional fundraiser in Maine.

As a result of his deception, Byther obtained a $50,000 retainer from the American Legion in March 2008. Byther never raised any funds for the legion. Instead, he spent the $50,000 on his other business pursuits and expenses, including the Prost Tap House and Club Onyx, a bar and nightclub that Byther opened in the Old Port of Portland in June 2008 and that failed several months later.

“The American Legion is a valuable resource to so many in the York area,” said Schneider. “Stealing from this kind of community based organization really takes away from Maine families and neighborhoods. This sentence reflects the seriousness and impact of this crime.”


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