Several weeks ago we began to receive tips concerning a major embezzlement crime at a Colbert County volunteer fire department. Various amounts of missing money were mentioned, but all reported the theft to be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
We questioned a knowledgeable source who told us there was indeed an investigation into a certain department and he would provide us with more information when charges were officially filed after the indictment. Are such thefts unusual?
Since we’ve been writing this blog, both the Cherokee Volunteer Fire Department and two Lawrence County, Tennessee, volunteer departments have been victims of embezzlement. The Lawrence County case is particularly interesting since the alleged thief is a UNA grad who was also serving as a county commissioner at the time. Then just last week the Midnight Rider blogged about an assistant Red Bank chief accused of insurance fraud/theft.
So, no, these type crimes are not unusual. We assume these small departments are desperate for members and are also overly trusting.
Fast forward a few weeks, and we’re still waiting on an indictment; however, there are now two Colbert County volunteer fire departments under investigation. Most were expecting the indictments last Friday, but even though they did not materialize, questions about the situation have made their way to Facebook.
We know the name of only one of the departments, although we have strong clues as to which department is the second victim of a trusted member helping himself to funds meant to assist the citizens of remote rural areas of Colbert County. Why is this still happening?
We can blame the lack of checks and balances in large part, but the good ol’ boy mentality of covering up for each other has certainly played a large role in the first instance. That’s not apt to change any time in the immediate future.
We noticed that some of the male readers who commented or followed our blog on the Reaves toddler death were volunteer fire fighters. How did we notice? No matter their occupation, they prominently displayed photos of themselves in fire fighting gear.
One of the late Michael Crighton’s last novels concerned the genetic propensity for risk taking. It’s more common in males and crosses educational and intellectual lines. Could the gene that propels these men (or women) to such occupations also make them more prone to the thrill of theft? We’re sure there are studies into this also; comments welcome.