King County prosecutors have charged Algona’s former interim police chief with theft and abuse of power, accusing him of stealing funds from the South Valley Police Explorers, a youth program he helped start in South King County.

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Algona Police Department’s former interim police chief is accused of shredding documents, carting off files, wiping clean his department-issued iPad and instructing at least one witness not to cooperate with investigators digging into his alleged theft of thousands of dollars from a youth program he helped start in South King County, according to prosecutors.

Lee Gaskill was charged Tuesday with first-degree theft and abuse of office and was issued a summons to appear for arraignment at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent on Aug. 17, said Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.

Gaskill, 43, of Bonney Lake, resigned from the police department April 24, the same day he was to appear for a disciplinary hearing, Algona Mayor Dave Hill said.

“I don’t think we’ll ever know the actual amount with certainty,” Hill said of the money Gaskill is alleged to have stolen from the South Valley Police Explorers, a volunteer program for young people in Algona, Pacific and Sumner to learn about police and police procedures.

Several phone numbers for Gaskill are disconnected and a call to his wife’s cellphone went unanswered Tuesday. It is unknown if Gaskill has hired an attorney.

Early this year, Hill said he decided to remove Gaskill from the interim chief position, citing “a bunch of little things” that led him to believe Gaskill wasn’t qualified to lead the department.

Around the same time, Hill was driving through the parking lot of City Hall and noticed Gaskill’s department-issued Chevrolet Tahoe had normal license plates instead of plates indicating it was a government vehicle. Hill asked another officer to run the license plates and discovered the vehicle was registered under a fictitious name as privately owned, Hill said.

On Feb. 6, a Friday, Hill informed Gaskill he’d be removed from the interim chief’s position and reinstated to his former rank of lieutenant. That weekend and the following Monday, Gaskill was observed — by a fellow officer as well as on the city’s video-surveillance system — shredding a large number of documents and carting files from his office to his vehicle, according to Hill and charging papers.

Gaskill was immediately placed on administrative leave, the papers say.

A few days later, Sumner’s city administrator contacted Algona’s city administrator after discovering irregularities in the bank account Gaskill had set up for the Explorer program, according to the charges.

That call ultimately led to a criminal investigation which, at the city’s request, was headed by the King County sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit, Hill said.

More than $7,300 was found to be missing from one account, and investigators learned Gaskill had also set up a secret account with at least $2,000 in donations given to the Explorers, charging papers say.

Gaskill’s wife also handed over $19,000 in cashier checks that Gaskill had purchased, ostensibly to purchase a vehicle for the Explorer program — though no one else involved in the program had ever discussed buying a vehicle, according to Hill and the charging papers.

Detectives learned Gaskill had used money from the Explorer account to buy a home-theater sound system, an inflatable device used to tow people behind a power boat as well as groceries and a microwave for a woman he was romantically involved with, charging papers say.

Gaskill is a former King County sheriff’s deputy who resigned from the agency in 2006 before joining the Algona Police Department in 2008, charging papers say. He was named interim chief in 2014.