Paul Kesterson

A former Washington police lieutenant pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to stealing funds from the group that oversees Explorer Scout training.

Paul Kesterson, 48, Washington, pleaded guilty to information-access device fraud.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Missouri, from Feb. 1, 2018, to April 2019, Kesterson stole $29,000 in goods and services while he served as director for the St. Louis Area Law Enforcement Exploring Association (SLALEEA).

Kesterson handled all of the finances and managed the Explorer Academy training. He was issued a credit and debit card to withdraw funds from the SLALEEA checking account for the benefit of the organization.

An investigation began on Kesterson after the assistant director received a phone call from U.S. Bank regarding a late credit card payment.

Authorities looked into Kesterson’s use of the SLALEEA account, as well as a Washington Police Department bank account controlled by Kesterson on behalf of the Explorer association.

Financial records revealed that Kesterson had been using the credit/debit card to make personal purchases, according to the district attorney’s office.

Washington police were informed of the possible theft of funds April 17 and within hours of the notification, Kesterson resigned from the department.

No other members of the department were the focus of the investigation and no other members of the police department had access to the account.

Kesterson entered a guilty plea in front of U.S. District Judge Richard Webber. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 10.

Kesterson could serve up to 15 years in prison and be fined $250,000.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, Washington and O’Fallon police.