Fire district overhauls financial operations post-embezzlement

After a fire marshall pleaded guilty to embezzling from the union for California's Rancho Adobe Fire Protection District, an emergency accounts payable audit of the department's financial procedures was launched, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

Michael Scott Bechtold was arrested last month for misappropriating more than $63,000 of union funds. He wrote 45 unauthorized checks to himself from the union's checking account and used the majority of the money to compensate a divorce attorney and pay child support.

The AP audit found that the department's funds had not been compromised. However, Rancho Adobe fire chief Frank Treanor noted that some of its financial processes needed to be tightened.

"Could improvements be made to the system? Sure, they could," Treanor told the news source. "The fact is that we have identified them and we are going to make them."

Specifically, more checks and balances will be introduced to bolster the city's accounts payable and payroll operations.

Elsewhere in the country, Mildred Higgins, the former treasurer of a Vermont volunteer fire department, was recently sentenced for embezzling more than $11,000, the Burlington Free Press reports.  

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