Aurora man sentenced to three years in prison after stealing

BY EILEEN MCCLORY Reporter
Daniel Molnar, right, turns to address members of the Aurora VFW Post 2629 sitting in the courtroom at his sentencing on June 16. His attorney, Shawn Burns, is pictured at left.

Several Aurora veterans, all in dress shirts and uniform caps, from the Aurora Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2629, spoke at the sentencing of their former quartermaster, Dan Molnar, 70, of Aurora, Tuesday morning.

The veterans described the sense of bewilderment and betrayal they had felt because of Molnar’s actions, which resulted in the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the VFW post.

Molnar was sentenced to three years in prison. He must also try to pay back more than $547,000, along with a $300 fine and court costs. He pleaded guilty to aggravated theft, a third-degree felony. Molnar stole about $714,376 from the post, but $167,835 was later recovered. 

Molnar was formerly the post’s quartermaster. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office said he had “complete control and access” over the group’s bank accounts, which he used to defraud a lottery machine and write improper checks. The thefts happened between 2011 and 2018. 

The post members said they had undergone severe financial strain to put the post’s finances back to where they need to be. They said the Aurora VFW has since made a comeback, but had to take out a mortgage on the post’s building and took out loans from some of its members.

“My husband and I felt personally betrayed and manipulated,” said Linda Bird, wife of one of the post members. 

Rand Kaiser, another veteran, said he felt bad for Molnar’s family, but his feelings towards the Molnar family didn’t lessen Molnar’s actions towards his former friends. 

“God bless and God bless his family,” Kaiser said. “I know they’re going through hell right now.”

Al Homza, who was elected quartermaster immediately after Molnar left, said in court on Tuesday the Portage County Prosecutor’s Office had not given him or the VFW enough notice before the plea set on April 17 and that he was not contacted prior to the plea being made. The prosecutor’s office and victim’s advocates said they contacted Homza directly several times to tell him when the court dates were. 

Shawn Burns, the public defender representing Molnar, said Molnar had a gambling addiction and was using the money from the VFW for that addiction.

“It’s hard to believe this happened,” Burns said. “He doesn’t seem like the type to do this.”

Burns said Molnar has, since the discovery of the theft, reached out to Veteran’s Affairs, which agreed to help him with his gambling addiction.

Burns said he had personally struggled with this case as the son of a Vietnam War veteran. Judge Laurie Pittman, who heard the case, said she had members of her family in the military as well, including a nephew in the Navy. 

“How could you take and violate their trust?” Pittman asked Molnar. “At any time you could have stopped and approached someone.”

Pittman said she was sending a clear message with the sentencing. Three years is the maximum amount of time under Ohio law that Molnar could have spent in prison for the charge he pleaded to.

Pittman, Burns and the VFW members who spoke at the sentencing said they did not believe Molnar would be able to pay back the money. Molnar said he would try. 

“I’ll do what I can to make things right,” Molnar said. 

Molnar said he would not appeal the decision. 

Contact reporter Eileen McClory at emcclory@recordpub.com or @Eileen_McClory.