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Mississippi fire agency’s leader accused of embezzlement

September 1, 2021 GMT

LAUREL, Miss. (AP) — The former president of a Mississippi county’s fire council is accused of embezzling money from the agency.

Jones County Sheriff’s Department deputies arrested William Lee Garrick, 42, of Laurel, Mississippi, on one count of embezzlement on Tuesday, WDAM-TV reported. Garrick is being held in the Jones County jail. No bond has been set. It was unclear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Garrick led the Jones County Fire Council and is also the former chief of the Calhoun Volunteer Fire Department.

“We’re still trying to wrap our heads around the fact that this has happened,” said Dana Bumgardner, the public information officer for the Fire Council. “It’s unconscionable to us and it has hurt us as individuals because, you know, he was trusted... It’s unthinkable that something like this could happen for funds that are just meant for the good of the community.”

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He’s accused of taking several thousands of dollars from an account that’s used to fund volunteer fire departments that serve Jones County. An exact amount of money embezzled has not yet been released.

Bumgardner said the Fire Council is in the process of reorganizing and replacing the former officers with new officers “and taking steps to make certain this never happens again.”