Tacoma charity forgives man accused of stealing $1.3M

TACOMA, Wash. -- A banker accused of stealing $1.3 million from a Tacoma charity is set to enter a plea in federal court next week, but in an extraordinary move, the non-profit has already chosen to forgive.

The homeless, hungry and addicted at Tacoma's Rescue Mission pray for each other after a banker allegedly preyed on them.

"It's a shame that anybody would try to take advantage of a charity," said Rescue Mission president David Curry.

Federal prosecutors claim loan officer Jeffrey Goodell hatched an elaborate scheme to steal more than $1 million from the charity.

"Unbeknownst to us, he forged my signature and impersonated some of the people on the staff to try to get a larger line of credit," Curry said.

He allegedly got another $800,000 line of credit. Curry said the organization was preparing to build housing for families in need and deposited money and two lines of credit in an account at Northwest Commercial Bank in Lakewood.

But that credit was tapped before the mission had a chance to touch it.

"Before we could even have a chance, this loan officer came in and took the money," Curry said.

After opening the account in 2010, Curry's staff called for a bank statement but they say Goodell kept intercepting their calls. Federal prosecutors say it was during that time that Goodell forged emails, altered documents and recruited others into his scheme.

"He went to a lot of trouble to try to steal this money, including faking cancer," Curry said.

Court documents allege Goodell was so bent on continuing his fraudulent conduct and not using leave time that he shaved his head and told bank managers he had cancer and would need to take time off.

In the end, the Rescue Mission wasn't cleaned out. Because Goodell allegedly stole from a line of credit, and with the addition of bank insurance, the mission didn't lose money, just trust.

The organization also didn't lose its focus of getting lives back on track.

"From our end, we certainly forgive him," Curry said. "I'm glad that justice is going to be done, but we certainly have no hard feelings. We're going to be all about helping people, and if the time should ever come we'd be happy to help him, too."