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Former fire chief charged with stealing $75K

Chief Michael Simpson allegedly convinced firefighters to take part in an unapproved phone plan and would text them each month telling them how much they owed


By Jacob Smith
The Lebanon Democrat

HUMPHREYS COUNTY, Tenn. — Former Humphreys County volunteer fire Chief Michael Simpson, 45, was charged with theft after an investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Comptroller's Office.

A Humphreys County grand jury indicted Simpson and charged him with stealing about $75,691 from the county and its fire department. He reportedly used the money for a variety of things like his home satellite system, credit card bills and Apple iTunes purchases.

Authorities arrested Michael Simpson on Tuesday and booked him in at the Humphreys County Jail where he remained on $75,000 bond.
Authorities arrested Michael Simpson on Tuesday and booked him in at the Humphreys County Jail where he remained on $75,000 bond.

TBI agents said Simpson convinced other local firefighters and their families to participate in an unapproved cellphone plan offered to local governments under the name of Humphreys County Fire Department. He arranged for all the participants' bills to be mailed to his home. He would text each family each month telling them how much they owed.

Agents said Simpson often charged the other firefighters $45 per line when the cellphone provider only charged $23 per month. There were also several months where Simpson did not make any payments to the cellphone provider. The average outstanding bill was about $17,775.

Investigators also questioned how an additional $10,394.27 of District 2 money was spent, including $8,894.50 for soft drinks. Numerous firefighters told investigators Simpson ordered large amounts of soft drinks for himself with the money.

Simpson was fired July 1, 2016. On Monday, a Humphreys County grand jury indicted Simpson and charged him with theft of more than $60,000.

"As we've often pointed out, it is absolutely essential that more than one person be involved in the money-handling process," said Tennessee Comptroller Justin P. Wilson. "In this case, the former fire chief had complete control over financial transactions, and no one was looking over his shoulder. This is an invitation for fraud and abuse."

Authorities arrested Simpson on Tuesday and booked him in at the Humphreys County Jail where he remained on $75,000 bond.

Copyright 2017 The Lebanon Democrat

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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