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Chris Smith: Bud Simmons could be a chapter in a book on good people who steal

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Add me to the long and growing list of those dumbfounded to learn that a good and decent and caring person with access to others’ money could not resist taking it.

You may have read that 82-year-old Korean War veteran Bud Simmons days ago pleaded no contest to a charge that he embezzled $20,000 from a local post of Veterans of Foreign Wars.

I know Bud well enough to know that he has dedicated much of his post-retirement life to serving and honoring fellow vets.

He’s pushed the state and federal governments to truly fulfill their commitments to those who’ve answered to call to arms. Many times, he has taken part in military honors at the funerals of veterans. He undertook the creation of a POW/MIA monument at Santa Rosa Memorial Park. He was of immeasurable assistance to Sonoma County’s aged survivors of Pearl Harbor.

For these and myriad other acts Bud was named the 2010 Sonoma County Veteran of the Year.

The charges against him specified that it was 2009 and ’10 when he violated the trust he held as quartermaster of VFW Post No. 1844 and wrote himself two checks for $10,000 each.

He will repay the money and he’ll spend time in jail. And his name will join those of all the others who stunned colleagues and friends by being caught pocketing funds from youth sports leagues, education foundations, churches, public and private schools, colleges, nonprofits and businesses.

There’s a book in this phenomenon of the Regular Joe or Jill who sits beside you somehow justifying sticking his or her hand in the till. The title of the final chapter, advising constant oversight of money handlers, will be, “No checks? No balances!”

...

GOT STUFF TO SELL? The volunteers bringing back The Treasure House, the charitable consignment shop that operated for decades near Railroad Square, would like to hear from you.

Five months after a leaky roof and other challenges forced the shop to close, a new location is coming together at 3450 Airway Drive. Before it opens, the volunteers need to fill it with consigned antiques, vintage collectibles, jewelry, furniture and home decor items.

Every weekday for the next two weeks, except May 21, potential consignors can take items by between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The volunteers, who monitor messages left at 523-1188, hope to reopen sometime in June.

...

ACTING NATURALLY: Geyserville needn’t get all painted and quainted up for the movie that will be shot there in June. Resident video producers Leslie and James Simmons like their town just as it is.

“For What It’s Worth,” written by friend, author and SRJC instructor Marc Bojanowski, will be the couple’s first feature film. It’s about a “cocky 19-year old” antiques shop worker who visits an older woman’s home and fixates on a precious collectible.

Leslie Simmons says nearly the entire cast will be local, and a collaboration with the new Alexander Valley Film Society will allow students from north Sonoma County high schools to be paid as interns on the crew.

There’s a request to help fund “For What It’s Worth” at indiegogo.com/projects/for-what-it-s-worth.

The Simmonses have produced many videos for businesses and contributed to others’ indie film projects. “This time,” Leslie said, “it’s all ours.”

...

COLOMBIA IS WHERE a pair of pals from Casa Grande High’s Class of ’01 ventured to shoot what they say really is a beautiful movie.

“It’s a side of Colombia that people haven’t seen,” said Andrew Perez, the son of Colombian-Americans who wrote and acts in “Bastards y Diablos.” His friend A.D. Freese directs.

The former Petaluma boys are over the moon that their film will premiere June 14 at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Perez and Freese have bills to pay after shooting for 35 days in Colombia, then finishing the film. They’ve got an appeal for financial help at indiegogo.com/projects/bastards-y-diablos.

Perez says they kept their costs as low as possible in Colombia. His cousins appear as extras and the primary caterer was his grandma.

Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @CJSPD.

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