Conduct Unbecoming

Bill Beachum, war hero and Disabled American Veterans honcho, had an out-of-control dream that may soon land him in jail. Question is, was he the only old soldier on a mission of greed?

Months later, in a sworn deposition, she said that she quit in January of 1999 because of Tucci's sexual innuendoes and the way he "groped, grabbed and fondled" her and her female coworkers, offering to pay them for sexual favors. Tucci denies this -- and her subsequent allegations -- in the vehement inflections of his native Calabria, Italy.

But Doe went on to sue him for that and for what she said happened next.

She said that, at Beachum's urging, she returned to work when they reopened after renovation. She worked one week. In the deposition for her lawsuit, she testified that on March 27, 1999, Tucci told her to bring the money from the cash drawer to the upstairs office and help him count it. She said she argued and then obeyed, and when she stepped inside the office, he grabbed her, ripped her culottes and pulled aside her thong underwear.

"His penis went in from behind me which ripped me open," she claimed in her deposition. "After that happened, my mouth went between his legs over and over, and we fought, and when it was over, it was like nothing." During the act, she said, she "lost all coordination with life. I went back to some little-girl state, I guess because of the past child abuse."

Doe sued Tucci, Beachum, the national DAV and the local DAV company running Lemmons. The suit alleges that Tucci "raped her and ejaculated on her back."

She'd been raped as a child, she said in her deposition, and the second rape left her too traumatized to tell anyone for months -- except Beachum, to whom she admitted giving a different version, something about Tucci masturbating and ejaculating into a towel.

Doe said her ribs were broken, but she didn't go to Grandel Medical Center for a week. And when she did, she said, she didn't tell her doctor what had happened -- and she didn't remember whether she was X-rayed.

She said in her deposition that she couldn't even tell her husband.

In his deposition, however, her husband said that she told him all about the rape right away, describing how "she climbed out the window onto the roof, trying to get away."

Maybe she tried. But that window is barred.

Tucci says he only settled his part of her eventual lawsuit for peace of mind. He says he fired Doe on Easter Sunday -- the day after the alleged rape -- because she wouldn't work and kept whining about going home to her kids, even though another waitress had been working since morning and herhusband was in the hospital. Tucci says Doe slung profanity at him and, fed up, he fired her, right in front of Bill Beachum.

Desperate to keep Doe from suing, Beachum started paying her salary and psychiatric bills, her father's medical bills, the legal bills to get custody of her daughter. According to his ledger and check records, in eight months he'd paid her $72,000.

Her attorney, Larry Bagsby, says, "She can only account for receiving $40,000."

Plus whatever Beachum paid to settle her eventual lawsuit. Where he got the money to settle, Bagsby won't say.

But by then, Beachum had also spent roughly $100,000 at the Casino Queen and Harrah's/Player's Island; bought himself a $40,000 BMW; used it for collateral to get a cash loan; replenished his negative-balance bank account; and drowned his sorrows -- all in 1999, all allegedly with the help of funds siphoned from the chapter.

At the chapter meeting that September, he was so drunk that he called "Hallelujah" after every line of the chaplain's long-winded blessing. Then, still in the middle of the prayer, he knocked against his glass, spilled the vodka and yelled, "Aw, fuck!"

In November 1999, he was suspended from his duties. On January 11, 2000, he took a long-distance call from the national DAV's investigator, Michael Kessler of Kessler International in New York. Kessler taped the call:

"Good morning, Bill."

"Hey, bud."

"How are you doing?"

"Oh man ... I just woke up. Can you believe that?"

Kessler chatted a while, then told Beachum he'd better wake up and answer some questions:

"What the fuck were you doing with $2,000 a day in a casino? Were you betting that money away?"

"I also won some," Beachum corrected.

"Why didn't you quit while you were ahead?"

"That's a good point. Greed."

Kessler asked who forged checks written to Jane Doe.

"I guess I did."

A few days later, Kessler called back to ask about a rumored prostitution ring at Lemmons.

"Well, if it is true, then I damn sure wasn't in on it."

Moving to the absurd, Kessler asked him about the bread machine, one of several inexplicable charges on his thrift-store credit card.

Turned out it was a Juiceman he'd ordered; the Breadman was a bonus.

"I am trying to get myself to where maybe I would start eating the right foods," Beachum confided. Exasperation had already erased his good intentions. "Cup of kiwifruit, some damn gingerroot ... who the hell has that shit?"

He said he'd reimbursed the DAV for the charge.

That month, Beachum applied for a passport and reportedly urged a fellow officer to do the same.

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