Former Crystal Beach Volunteer Fire Department chief blamed for missing money

About $100,000 is missing from the volunteer fire department and the ex-chief is defending himself against allegations he took it
January 21, 2014 3:26:13 PM PST
An investigation underway in Galveston County after thousands of dollars disappeared.

That money is missing from the Crystal Beach Volunteer Fire Department and at least one person on the inside is accused of taking it. We're not naming him because he hasn't been criminally charged.

Fifteen volunteers make up the Crystal Beach Fire Department.

"The fire service is a family, and it always has been," Crystal Beach VFD Battalion Chief Anthony Scopel said.

Together, they serve the 3,500 folks who live there year-round.

"They came to my rescue one time. Fire came very close to my house so we gotta have 'em," resident Charles Martin said.

So, in November when their finances didn't add up.

"It was varying amounts over a period of time," Scopel said.

Their fire chief was questioned, and just Thursday, voted out of his position.

"Those funds that aren't there, really do create a danger to us as firefighters," Scopel said.

Crystal Beach gets about 250 calls a year. Their equipment is old and breaks down. They're short on air packs. So the missing money roughly $100,000 would allow them to buy, repair and replace gear. In fact, it could almost buy them a new base-model fire truck.

"I don't know what to say. I just don't like it," Crystal Beach resident John Boleyn said.

More than 80 percent of the fire department's money comes from donations and barbecue fundraisers directly from the people who trust them with their homes and their lives.

"It affects us the same way it does them. They've lost some of their protection, we've lost some of our safety," Scopel said.

The Crystal Beach Volunteer Fire Department has elected a new chief.

The accused former chief says the allegations against him are hard to swallow and he didn't take the money.

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