Woman accused of abusing veterans’ benevolent funds in Pierce County has history of similar behavior

A six-month investigation by KING 5 has revealed that the VIEW is not the first nonprofit to nearly hit the ground with Rosemary Hibbler at the helm.

TACOMA, Wash. — The woman at the center of a scandal at a Pierce County charity for homeless and disabled veterans is not new to embezzling money from people in need, according to a KING survey 5.

A KING 5 survey found Hibbler embezzling money from the SIGHT by spending the charity’s money inside local casinospay for it personal rent also her Direct TV bills.

Bank statements from 2018 and 2019 also show thousands of dollars in unexplained withdrawals, checks made out to cashand transferred funds in someone’s personal bank account.

In a deposition relating to a class action against the VIEW involving 73 veterans, Hibbler said “I plead the fifthwhen asked about casino withdrawals and rent payments.

“No, I didn’t take the money from VIEW and didn’t use it to gamble. This is the answer to that question,” Hibbler said in an interview with KING 5.

The embezzlement of money from VIEW, which has a 31-year history in Pierce County, hurt some of the veterans the organization originally helped with housing and jobs.

Army veteran Mike Garwick, 62, got off the streets with the help of VIEW. Now he is homeless again. He found temporary shelter at Tacoma Rescue Mission.

“I believe it’s Rosemary Hibbler’s fault,” Garwick said. “There’s no way we’re being treated like this, by anyone. We have done our time. We did our years in the army. We deserve better.

RELATED: Pierce County Nonprofit Leader Paid Rent With Veterans’ Money, Documents Show

A six-month investigation by KING 5 has revealed that the VIEW is not the first nonprofit to nearly hit the ground with Rosemary Hibbler at the helm.

In September 2013, three years before becoming director of operations at VIEW, Hibbler was hired by Vincent Sewell and his mother Patricia of Federal Way. Their non-profit organization, Sober Solutions, provided transitional housing for homeless veterans, as well as drug addicts and convicts in King and Pierce counties.

The Sewells said they knew Hibbler had a criminal history for false felony and theft, but they gave him the benefit of the doubt.

“We want to give people a second chance. Just because you’ve been in prison doesn’t mean you’re no longer good for society. So of course we gave it a chance,” said 53-year-old Vincent Sewell.

About a year into his employment with Sober Solutions, the Sewells said their accountant raised serious concerns with them. In court documentsthey said the accountant discovered that “embezzled funds…taxes, mortgages, contractors and utility bills” were not being paid.

“It was a big mistake (to hire Hibbler),” Patricia Sewell said. “I don’t think she thinks she’ll ever be caught.”

Bank statements from Sober Solutions from 2014, analyzed by KING 5, show thousands of dollars in unexplained withdrawalsincluding one-to-one withdrawals ATM inside the Clearwater Casino in Kitsap County.

The charity also paid for trips that had nothing to do with helping Sober Solutions customers. The nonprofit’s debit card was used to purchase a $387.10 United Airlines ticket to Alabama. It was used to purchase items at an Alabama Wal-Mart and to withdraw $402 from an ATM at an Alabama courthouse. Sober Solutions also took over a note of $648.60 at a Sheraton hotel in Alabama.

Rosemary Hibbler is from Alabama.

“We’re blown away that someone like this is able to do this,” said Vincent Sewell.

Through tears, Patricia Sewell explained how the downfall of their organization has been hard on their finances and personal life. She and her son filed for bankruptcy in 2014. Patricia said she now had trouble sleeping and had taken additional medication for high blood pressure.

“It’s hard. I try not to think about it. We had to go through hell to save our properties, and we still do. It’s hard,” said Patricia Sewell, 70.

Rosemary Hibbler said she did not steal Sober Solutions.

“I didn’t do any of that. To say that is not only insulting, but it’s not accurate,” Hibbler said. “Patricia Sewell is absolutely not telling the truth and she hasn’t lost everything because of me.”

The Federal Way Police Department investigated Sewell’s charges in 2015. Detective Annette Scholl wrote in a report that Sober Solutions had poor internal financial controls.

“…it became clear that Sober Solutions…had limited, if any, financial guarantees in terms of Hibbler’s use and leeway with company money”, Det. Scholl wrote.

Scholl found that since Hibbler “had full authority” to write checks and “do all banking” for the charity, there was “not a crime” committed. She closed the file.

But in a civil case filed by the Sewells, a Pierce County Superior Court judge found Hibbler liable for “common law fraud” – and that she had been “unjustly enriched”. In a 2017 default judgment, Judge Veronica Galvan ordered Hibbler to pay the Sewells $226,886.

It was two and a half years ago. None of this has been paid for.

The Sewells are working to rebuild their business and their lives. They said part of their healing is to continue advocating for accountability for Rosemary Hibbler.

“We hate to see VIEW dealing with this. We want to stop it. That’s why we’re here today,” said Vincent Sewell.

Hibbler continues to be in charge at VIEW.

Comments are closed.