By Mishele Wright
MARION, Ind. — Indiana State Police say they are looking into a report of missing money from Washington Township Volunteer Fire Department.
Sgt. Tony Slocum, public information officer for the Peru Post, said the inquiry began within the past month.
“Somehow it came to our attention that we needed to conduct an investigation into possible misappropriation of funds,” he said.
He didn’t know how much money was potentially involved.
Assistant Fire Chief Aaron Knight said he couldn’t elaborate on details because the investigation is ongoing, but he said members of the fire department discovered the missing money.
“The secretary-treasurer last year discovered it at the end of the year,” he said.
He also was unaware of how much money was involved.
Slocum said there isn’t one specific person who is a target of the investigation.
“Usually when we conduct an investigation like this, we’re looking at everything,” he said. “To focus your investigation on only one person narrows your investigation … so we kind of look into everything.”
Police are interviewing people who may have had access to the funds, and when the examination is finished the case will be turned over to the Grant County Prosecutor’s Office for review of potential charges.
This is the third fire department and fourth government agency in Grant County to come under scrutiny for possible theft within the past year.
William “Bill” Wentz last week was sentenced for stealing money from Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department, while an investigation into Center Township Volunteer Fire Department is ongoing.
The examination began last summer after Center Township Trustee Bryce Coryea found questionable ATM withdrawals from the corporation’s account. Robert Devine was the department’s treasurer at the time, but no longer has anything to do with the agency. No charges have been filed so far in the case.
State police in November also began looking into a possible theft in which the city of Marion is the victim, after officials were made aware of discrepancies earlier in the year. Police and city leaders have refused to comment about what department or individual is being investigated.
Slocum said during a time when many government agencies are struggling to find money, those who are using public funds for personal gain need to be held accountable.
“When someone put into the public’s trust is taking money from taxpayers, that’s not something we want going on,” he said. “It’s not rare. It seems like all the time we’re arresting county trustees and this town clerk or that town clerk, but I think the majority of people are hardworking folks doing the right thing every day.”
Copyright 2013 Chronicle-Tribune (Marion, IN)
Distributed by Newsbank, Inc. All Rights Reserved