POST FALLS - Several months of internal struggles at what has been one of the most active American Legion posts in the state may have reached its boiling point on Saturday.
After the election of officers at Post 143 in Post Falls, David "Robby" Robinson, who served as the most recent commander before being voted off the board, was cited for misdemeanor battery for allegedly punching fellow member Len Crosby.
Per the Legion staff's request, Robinson was also issued a trespass warning.
Crosby and Robinson told police different stories of how Crosby ended up with a cut on his upper lip.
"(Crosby) stated he was walking down the hall ... when Robby said to Len, 'You're going down,' and then punched him in the face with a closed fist," the police report states.
Crosby told police that he believed Robinson was upset about being voted off the board as commander and that was the reason for the alleged punch.
"I said, 'Just let it go Robinson', then there was the sucker punch," said Crosby, adding the blow caused him to drop papers and a glass of water he was carrying and fall against the wall. "He had a ring on his right side that gouged some flesh out of my upper lip ... . I then put my hands up and said, 'OK, let's get this on.'
"The moment I took a defensive posture Robinson turned and ran to the office area shouting, 'He is going to hit me.' At no time did I place my hands on Robinson or do anything more than take a defensive posture."
Robinson denied punching Crosby.
Robinson told police he was walking in the hall when he felt a nudge, which startled him to the point in which items he was carrying, including paperwork, a folder and large calculator, were flung into the air.
"Robby stated the calculator must have hit Len in the lip," the report states.
An officer told Robinson Crosby's story and that police had been warned in advance that the Legion election later that day could escalate into a confrontation, but Robinson still stuck to his story about what happened.
Crosby said Robinson had put the items down he was carrying, allowing Robinson to throw the alleged punch.
Robinson couldn't be reached for further comment on Monday.
Both men said that, while there were other people at the Legion during the alleged incident, there were no witnesses. Crosby bled from the wound, but told police he didn't need medical attention.
Ron Star, a previous commander, called the alleged incident an "absolute shame" and hopes the Legion will get turned around after the turmoil.
Crosby is a commercial real estate lender who is active with the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce and local issues. He is a past Citizen of the Year for Post Falls, the chamber of commerce's top award.
Two people at the Legion told police that Crosby had verbally threatened Robinson.
Crosby said he had been asked by some members to review the finances of the Legion and had requested the information multiple times earlier from Robinson, but he never verbally attacked him on Saturday or any time before.
"I think at one point I told him to stop yelling," said Crosby, who was elected finance officer on Saturday.
Crosby said Robinson declined to provide the financial information so he could report to the members his findings. That led to the special election.
"All we're trying to do is get our arms wrapped around the finances and create a situation in which members actually can see minutes from meetings," Crosby said.
Post 143, the largest American Legion post in Idaho with more than 600 members, has prided itself with being active in community and veteran programs.
Steve Hanson on Saturday became the fourth commander since commander John Dunlap died nearly a year ago after serving 30 years. The three previous commanders were, in order, Star, who was elected, and Tom Affeldt and Robinson, both who stepped into the role due to vacancies and already being on the board.
Some Legion members are optimistic that the new officers will bring back stability.
"They seem dedicated and motivated to work on Legion programs," said Robert Shoeman, a member for 13 years. "There's been some challenges, but this group seems dedicated toward carrying out the mission of the Legion."
Post Falls Legion elects new officers
POST FALLS - American Legion Post 143 in Post Falls held a special election of officers on Saturday.
Newly elected officers include: Commander Steve Hanson; First Vice Commander Dee Sasse; Second Vice Commander Ron Star; Finance Officer Len Crosby; Historian Terry Drapeau; Service Officer Jack Nomanson; Chaplin Paula Atwood; Judge Adjutant Kenny Owens and Adjutant Bryan Bledsoe.
Since the death of longtime Post Commander John Dunlap last February, the post has had three commanders. Dunlap, who died of natural causes at 78, led the organization for 30 years.
Hanson replaces appointee David "Robby" Robinson as commander and will serve until the election in April 2014.