Fire official sentenced after AP audit uncovered embezzlement

The former treasurer of a Western New York fire district was recently sentenced to jail time after an accounts payable audit revealed he had embezzled more than $137,000 from the organization, according to the Buffalo News.

Norman Baker of West Seneca Fire District No. 1 misappropriated the funds by writing 77 unauthorized checks to himself and his wife over a period of eight years. The AP audit found that he concealed his actions by making fictitious claims and altering records.

Baker's attorney, Joseph Connelly, said in court that Baker used the money to pay his children's college tuition. Connelly maintained that while this did not excuse Baker's conduct, it was "a fact of the case," the news source reports.

A recovery audit conducted by the District Attorney's Special Investigations Bureau determined that Baker, who was ordered to pay $36,000 in restitution over the next 10 years, could afford $300 monthly payments over that time period.

Elsewhere in the country, California's Rancho Adobe Fire Protection District tightened its financial procedures after a fire marshal pleaded guilty to embezzling from its union in October, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. 

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