5 accused of conspiracy to take over, steal from defunct Ind. FD

Authorities say the group appointed themselves as officers of the Patriot Volunteer Fire Department and gained access to the department's building and equipment


Kevin Green
Greensburg Daily News, Ind.

SWITZERLAND COUNTY, Ind. — Tuesday, five residents of Switzerland County were arrested on numerous theft related charges after a six month investigation by the Indiana State Police-Special Investigations Section into theft from the Patriot Volunteer Fire Department.

The investigation began in March 2020 when the Indiana State Police began an investigation after being notified that a group of individuals were attempting to fraudulently gain control of the equipment and assets of the fire department which had not been operational since 2017.

Five people were arrested and charged in relation to an alleged scheme to take over and steal from the Patriot Volunteer Fire Department, which has not been in operation since 2017. Clockwise from top left: Christopher See, Christopher Miller, Lewis Fritter, Jacob Parker and Caitlyn Staat. (Photo/Indiana State Police)
Five people were arrested and charged in relation to an alleged scheme to take over and steal from the Patriot Volunteer Fire Department, which has not been in operation since 2017. Clockwise from top left: Christopher See, Christopher Miller, Lewis Fritter, Jacob Parker and Caitlyn Staat. (Photo/Indiana State Police)

The investigation determined that on March 16, 2020, Christopher See, 37, filed fraudulent paperwork with the State of Indiana to take control of the fire department. See, along with Christopher Miller, 32, Caitlyn Staat, 19, Jacob Parker, 35, and Lewis Fritter, 42, held a meeting without giving proper public notice and without giving notice to the remaining members of the Patriot Volunteer Fire Department.

At the meeting, only attended by the five individuals, See was chosen to be president and Miller was chosen to be the new chief of the fire department. Parker was chosen as assistant chief and Staat was chosen to be the treasurer. The new officers were elected without following the existing by-laws of the PVFD.

See, Miller, and Staat then contacted the First Financial Bank in Vevay where they used the fraudulently filed paperwork to put their names on the accounts containing the department's money. They then gained access to the Patriot Volunteer Fire Department's building and equipment.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the case was presented to the Switzerland County Prosecutor's Office for review. This led to all five suspects being arrested and charged in Switzerland County.

Christopher See was arrested on charges of Conspiracy to Defraud a Financial Institution, Conspiracy to Commit Theft (4 counts), Perjury (7 counts), and Official Misconduct. Christopher Miller, Caitlyn Staat, Jacob Parker, and Lewis Fritter were all arrested on charges of Conspiracy to Defraud a Financial Institution, and Conspiracy to Commit Theft (4 counts).

All five suspects were arrested and attended an initial hearing Tuesday morning in the Switzerland County Circuit Court.

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©2020 the Greensburg Daily News (Greensburg, Ind.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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