Mich. assistant fire chief accused of embezzling from cancer fundraiser

Money had previously been reported missing from a fundraising benefit to honor of a retired firefighter who died from cancer


Cole Waterman
MLive.com, Walker, Mich.

SAGINAW, Mich. — The assistant chief of a Saginaw County fire department is charged with embezzling from an anti-cancer fundraising benefit.

Kyle N. Browne, 43, on Feb. 21 appeared in Saginaw County District Court for arraignment on one count of embezzlement between $200 and $1,000 from a nonprofit or charitable organization. The felony charge is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $10,000 or three times the amount stolen.

An assistant fire chief is accused of embezzling between $200 and $1,000 from money raised for cancer research in memory of retired Firefighter Deward B. Beeler, who died from cancer in 2018. The money was raised through the sale of
An assistant fire chief is accused of embezzling between $200 and $1,000 from money raised for cancer research in memory of retired Firefighter Deward B. Beeler, who died from cancer in 2018. The money was raised through the sale of "What Would Deward Do? (W.W.D.D.?)" T-shirts and stickers like the one seen above. (Photo/Tri-Township Fire District Facebook)

Browne is the assistant chief of the Tri-Township Fire District, which is located at 106 W. Spruce St. in St. Charles and services St. Charles, Brant, and Swan Creek townships.

According to Michigan State Police Special 1st Lt. David Kaiser, the fire district contacted the MSP on Oct. 16 to request an investigation into missing funds. The funds had been raised during a fundraiser in the name of Deward B. Beeler, who retired from the department in 2017 and died of cancer on Nov. 30 the following year.

“It came to light when a firemen’s association looked at invoices of the money that went in and went out and discovered the shortage,” Kaiser previously said. “We did many, many interviews on this.”

Chief Pat Harley previously said the fundraiser was held in early January 2019, though court records list the date of the alleged crime as Dec. 1, 2018. It was put on by department staff but was not an official department function, Harley has said.

Prosecutors allege Browne kept funds from the nonprofit Tri-Township Firefighters Association. Prior media reports indicate stickers and shirts were sold in Beeler’s memory, the proceeds to go toward cancer research.

Browne was placed on indefinite unpaid suspension from the district once he was charged, said Chief Harley. The chief declined to comment further on the matter.

Browne is free on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond. MLive-The Saginaw News was unable to reach him for comment.

Browne is to appear for a preliminary examination at 2:30 p.m. on March 12.

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©2020 MLive.com, Walker, Mich.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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