Millville Fire Co. apologizes to community for alleged fraud

MILLVILLE — Describing the situation as “truly a low point in our history,” the Millville Volunteer Fire Company apologized to the community and pledged to tighten financial controls after a reported $190,433 in personal transactions were allegedly made by its former treasurer.

The Sussex County fire company issued a statement in response to a 13-page State Auditor’s report that was released Monday and pointed to lax oversight as greatly fueling the opportunity for alleged fraudulent activity.

“Unfortunately, the actions of one individual has reflected very poorly on our fire company,” said a statement released by Millville VFC Public Information Officer Bob Powell.

“Years of hard work and dedication by the vast majority of our members and employees to gain your trust and respect have been destroyed by one individual in a very short time.”

According to the auditor’s report, the unidentified former treasurer admitted to his alleged misdeeds during a meeting in May 2015. The treasurer was removed from office on May 19, 2015, the report read.

“We want to assure the community that as soon as this alleged illegal activity was discovered, we contacted the appropriate state agencies to begin to investigate,” the statement read.

“We have cooperated fully with all state agencies and complied with their every request …”

On Wednesday, State Auditor Tom Wagner said his office is working with the Delaware State Police on the matter. Also, “The Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust will review the State Auditor’s report to make a determination with regard to the allegations,” spokesman Carl Kanefsky said.

The fire company also noted that stronger internal oversight is now in place to avoid any future unlawful conduct.

“In addition, we immediately took internal corrective actions, as outlined in our company by-laws, to stop any further financial damage,” the release said. “Going forward, we have placed a series of checks and balances in effect to ensure this does not happen again.”

Many of the alleged personal transactions were made via ATM and cash withdrawals, the auditor reported, and financial records were altered to conceal the alleged crimes.

Despite the financial loss, the fire company said its operations remained unaffected during the period.

“We would like to assure the members of our community that at no time was the delivery of emergency services affected in any way,” the statement read. “We remain committed to providing quality fire, rescue, and emergency medical services to our community.”

The statement closed with, “Once again, we remain committed to providing quality fire, rescue and emergency medical services to our community. We cannot accomplish this without the help of our community.

“We want the community to know we will continue to be here to provide quality emergency services to our community. We are asking for your continued support through this difficult time.

“We promise to continue to work very hard to regain your trust and respect.”

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