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Ex-fire district staffer facing charges

One of Fire District 7’s former employees faces possible criminal charges after allegedly embezzling more than $3,000 between April 2000 and October 2001.

According to the state auditor’s report, released Friday, the accused employee admitted to those conducting the audit that she had deposited into her personal account a $615 check made out to FD7. The employee was immediately placed on administrative leave while the audit team investigated the district’s finances further.

An additional $2,788.14, money which had all been converted to cash, was found to be missing.

The employee was subsequently fired in November.

“That person had a lot of responsibility to handle money,” said Chief Mike Brown. “We had accounting practices, but we needed more.”

After the suspected thief was fired, the district stepped up accountability practices and Brown said the district has had a clean audit record since. The audit was never able to locate the missing $2,788.14, largely because currency is nearly impossible to track.

“This proves the benefit of having clean audits,” Brown said. “Without an annual audit, we might not have caught it as quickly.”

The district has since hired a replacement for the employee who was fired.

Brown said the district is waiting to see whether the prosecutor’s office will file charges — and what charges could be filed. The suspected employee has not remained in contact with the district and Brown said he has no idea whether she is still in the area.

“I can tell you we’ve not received any calls for references,” he said.

This is not the first time a fire district employee has been suspected of embezzling funds.

In the early 1990s, Brown said another employee misappropriated funds and served jail time as a result. Although that incident was nearly 10 years ago, Brown was still saddened by the crime.

“There’s zero tolerance, I can tell you that,” he said. “We hate to have this happen — it puts a black mark on the trust we’re supposed to have.”

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