Former fire chief arrested in theft of $75,000 from Humphreys County
A former fire chief in Humphreys County has been arrested on charges he stole over $75,000 from the fire department and county.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation pursued the matter, and their findings led to the indictment and arrest of Michael Simpson of Waverly, who at the time was the Humphreys County District 2 fire chief, according to a TBI news release.
TBI agents say that between January 2014 and August 2016, Simpson stole approximately $75,691. The investigation revealed Simpson used two banks accounts to disperse some of the funds to his personal credit cards, and to make personal purchases, the release said.
Investigators found that Simpson used $47,692 of the fire department’s funds to buy himself a home satellite system, to pay his credit cards bills, and to make Apple iTunes purchases, among many other purchases, according to a separate news release from the state comptroller's office.
One of Simpson’s schemes involved soliciting firefighters and their families to participate in a cell phone plan offered to local governments, the release said. The plan was not authorized by the Humphreys County government.
Simpson arranged for all of the participants’ bills to be mailed to his personal home address, and he would text each participant the amount they owed, the release said. Investigators determined Simpson often charged an inflated monthly fee of $45 per line; however, in most instances, the cell phone provider only charged $23 per month.
“As we’ve often pointed out, it is absolutely essential that more than one person be involved in the money-handling process,” said Justin P. Wilson, state comptroller, in the news release.
“In this case, the former fire chief had complete control over financial transactions, and no one was looking over his shoulder. This is an invitation for fraud and abuse.”
Simpson was terminated on July 1, 2016, during the comptroller's office investigation. Days later, the district attorney asked TBI to join in the investigation.
On Monday, the Humphreys County grand jury returned an indictment charging Simpson, 45, with one count of theft over $60,000. He was arrested Tuesday and booked into Humphreys County Jail on a $75,000 bond.
If you suspect fraud, waste or abuse of public money in Tennessee, call the Comptroller’s toll-free hotline at 800-232-5454 or file a report online at www.comptroller.tn.gov/hotline.
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