A local nonprofit, geared toward helping veterans, is scrambling to recoup thousands of dollars they claim was stolen from their organization. A Hamilton County grand jury chose to charge Jeremy Bryson with the theft. Bryson, who is also a veteran, was a part of the nonprofit when the money went missing.
Army Veteran, James Macrellis started an organization named R.O.V.E.R. or Regional Outreach Veterans Engagement Resources, for other veteran families in need.
"When I came home I spent 3 years on the couch, just going into a depression cycle and stuff so afterward it was a matter of what can I do," said James Macrellis.
The non-profit helps disabled vets through outreach events like adaptive sailing, therapeutic diving and workforce development. Macrellis contacted to Channel 3 for help saying a recent theft from within his organization has hurt his group's ability to serve local veterans.
"Yes we feel betrayed, we had a loss of confidence in someone and this is a veteran himself," said Macrellis. "That made it even worse that a veteran is stealing from other veterans and that really is a kick in the gut."
Jeremy Bryson now faces felony theft charges for theft of more than $1,000 dollars from the organization R.O.V.E.R. A Hamilton County Grand Jury issued the indictment earlier this month. Macrellis claims Bryson stole thousands of dollars, forcing his organization to cancel some major fundraisers.
"To actually know that now we can't help other veterans that we see that really need it, that's even worse because there are veterans out there that need help," said Macrellis.
Attorney, Bryan Hoss says his client is innocent and that will be proven in court.
"This is personal, the head of this supposed charity organization has a personal vendetta against Mr. Bryson for who knows what reason and he's been given ceased and desist letters to stop defaming Mr. Bryson in public and he continues," said Hoss.
He points to another recent theft investigation in Catoosa County, sparked by Macrellis, that was thrown out.
"Mr. Bryson says he has never stolen money from any veterans group at all ever in his life so whatever these allegations are we'll start our investigation and get to the bottom of it as best we can and as quick as we can," said Hoss. "You can't rush to judgment just because someone has a mugshot of someone....doesn't mean they've done anything wrong."
Bryson also served as the co-chairman of UTC's Student Veteran's Organization before he was dismissed. New President, Robert Barber says that thousands of dollars went missing from that group too.
"It caused us to look into our finances and we came across some pretty appalling records," said Barber. "All together what we could come up with was $2,300 stolen and about $6,000 dollars misappropriated."
Bryson was accused of taking the money from UTC Student Veteran's Organization, but no charges were ever filed. The case involving R.O.V.E.R. goes to court on Friday.