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Community reacts after former Marshall County fire chief accused of stealing funds

A former chief was charged with theft of property and illegal possession and use of a credit or debit card.

Posted: Oct 9, 2019 5:05 PM
Updated: Oct 9, 2019 5:59 PM

The Georgia Mountain Fire Department in Marshall County is expected to have a large turnout at their monthly meeting on Wednesday. This comes after a former chief, Jason Edmonds, was accused of stealing $5,000 from the department and was charged with theft of property and illegal possession and use of a credit or debit card.

That meeting will happen at the fire station and people who live in the area that WAAY 31 talked to said they expect the public meeting to be packed. That's because they want to find out how the money was stolen and why it took so long to find out the money was missing.

"When you want to take money inappropriately and it's a volunteer organization, I consider that a very harsh, bad thing," said Linda Zanetti.

Zanetti shares that opinion with plenty of people we talked to in the neighborhood.

"If he's found guilty, he needs jail time," said Zanetti.

The Marshall County Sheriff's Office said it believes Former Chief Edmonds might have been stealing for months. The sheriff's office investigation was launched after members of the fire department board say they found discrepancies in their private donations account.

It was initially thought to be a clerical error, but turned out to be more after they reviewed financial documents. The sheriff's office was notified in September, and the chief was arrested on Tuesday.

Zanetti said she's had her suspicions for a while.

"I wasn't surprised, because I wondered how come we never knew anything about the auditing other than going to a fire department meeting," said Zanetti.

Zanetti said she hopes in the future there's more transparency with the department's finances. A fire department representative said they reviewed the department's two other financial accounts and did not find any discrepancies.

"Why aren't the public people notified with a simple print out, something just given to the local people, put into paper, to let us know the checks and balances are correct?" said Zanetti.

The department representative said at the public meeting, people will learn the department has $34,000 in their accounts. He said the $5,000 stolen won't break the bank and they'll still be able to keep the lights on.

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