Thread: Firefighter Thieves!
08-16-2004, 01:08 PM #1
- Join Date
- Feb 2001
- Illinois-where pertnear is close enough!
I alluded to this story in another thread, but I also found it at FH.com top news stories, so I guess the cat is out of the bag.
I am familiar with this department and they are a great bunch of guys.
Here is the story and the only thing that I have to say is that I think it's a good idea to require TWO signatures on a check, but NOT a husband and wife team!
Firefighters Shocked That Two of Their Own Are Charged With Stealing From Department Bank Accounts
PORT BYRON, Ill. (AP) -- Firefighters in this northwestern Illinois village say they're shocked that two of their own have been charged with stealing money from several fire department bank accounts, including an account honoring a local soldier who was killed in Iraq.
James D. Roos, 26, and his wife Nicole M. Roos, 24, both of Port Byron, were arrested Friday in connection with the theft of about $5,000 from the accounts, the Rock Island County Sheriff's Department said.
James Roos was charged with theft, and Nicole Roos was charged with theft and forgery. They were released from custody on $10,000 bond. A phone number for Roos in Port Byron was no longer in service Sunday.
Both were members of the volunteer Port Byron fire department and had access to the accounts in question, said Lt. Gerry Bustos, a chief investigator for the sheriff's department.
``Everything led directly to them,'' Bustos said.
According to charges filed in Rock Island County Court, the thefts began in January 2003.
The money was stolen from accounts operated by the Port Byron Firefighters Association, a volunteer fund-raising group within the department, fire chief Mike Poel said.
One of the accounts was dedicated to Sgt. Landis Garrison, of nearby Rapids City, who died in Iraq in April when his 9mm pistol accidentally fired while he was cleaning it.
Garrison was a member of the Freeport-based 333rd Military Police Unit, which returned home last month. He also was a volunteer firefighter in Port Byron, located about 20 miles northeast of Rock Island.
``It was a shock to me when I discovered it,'' Poel said. ``The firefighters (were) infuriated someone would do this, let alone our own people. ... The guys were just absolutely flabbergasted.''
08-16-2004, 11:23 PM #2
Unfortuantely this isn't uncommon....... Probably about 5+ years ago, we had one of our own who had some issues and was stealing equipment and paychecks from the station.......
Sad to say, but it happens........
As for the 2 signatures, I agree 100%. Our Firefighter's Association has required 2 signatures for a long long time........
08-17-2004, 10:57 AM #3
I know this department very well, I am friends will all of them and have worked with them. The couple that are being charged were friends of mine, I grew up with him and was even in his wedding. This incident just floored me! I was very shocked just like the members of their department. As far as having two sign the checks, they had that process in place, the treasurer and President were required to sign for all banking issues, however the Presidents name was being forged. The department is very concerned that the community we have lost trust in the department over this incident, I am sure they won't since they didn't try to hide the investigation. I can not believe that someone could do this.
08-18-2004, 12:26 PM #4
- Join Date
- Feb 2001
- Illinois-where pertnear is close enough!
And if either one of these persons works around money at their regular jobs, I would be pulling a little audit there, also.
If I were them, I'd be making plans to MOVE.
If I were a firefighter in that community, I'd have a hard time even looking at them without feeling disgust and revulsion.
Friends? I'm sure that they are all lined up in their corner, trying to rationalize as to why you would steal from a memorial fund or from a fund that is there to pay for life-saving equipment. And in today's society, it will be because of some reason other than they are dishonest, disingenuous and deceitful. Couldn't make it on what they were earning?
How about; cut back or get a second job. Sell something. Borrow from a relative.
Oh; it's just easier to steal it. People who know us will understand.
The honor that we enjoy is not shared by thieves!
They might very well leave the community to avoid the stares and the talk. But the other proud members of the department will have to endure it until enough time passes.
08-19-2004, 08:31 AM #5
- Join Date
- Jul 1999
- DuBois, IL - just south of I-64 in the middle of the state
I just read in the paper that the Joliet fire chief and his wife were charged with bilking 200k from a widow after getting power of attorney from her. While they didn't steal from a fire dept., they do put a dark spot on the fire service. Guess they couldn't make ends meet with his 100k+ salary. He did resign as chief, but is still working as a deputy chief until he's proven guilty.Jack Boczek, Chief
Ashley Community Fire Protection District
08-19-2004, 08:56 AM #6
- Join Date
- Jun 2000
- 911 N. Sycamore St. Yep, that's really our address.
Here's the story, out of the Joliet paper:
Fire chief, wife accused of financial exploitation
By Charles B. Pelkie
JOLIET — Fire Chief Joseph Drick resigned on Wednesday as Will County prosecutors were filing criminal charges alleging that he and his wife took more than $200,000 from the accounts of an elderly Joliet woman whom they had befriended.
Drick, who has been Joliet's fire chief since 1998, and his wife, Cheri Lynn Drick, are expected to surrender to sheriff's deputies Friday morning. They each will have to post $15,000 cash to secure their freedom while awaiting trial.
Joseph and Cheri Drick each face felony charges of unlawful financial exploitation of an elderly person, conspiracy to commit financial exploitation of an elderly person, and theft by deception. They face between four and 15 years in prison if convicted.
Will County State's Attorney Jeff Tomczak alleged during a press conference Wednesday that the couple used money stolen from the accounts of 84-year-old Gladys Farrington to buy a 2003 Cadillac Escalade and to pay for a four-night trip to Treasure Island in Las Vegas that was later refunded. They also used the elderly woman's money to buy furniture for their sprawling ranch-style house at 1400 Mason Ave., pay down their personal credit card debt, purchase a cemetery plot and cover their home mortgage, Tomczak said.
"Cheri even signed one of Gladys' checks to pay for a chimney sweep — although Gladys does not have a real fireplace in her home," Tomczak said.
The Dricks also stand accused of funneling nearly $85,000 of Farrington's money into Joseph Drick's private consulting business, Drick Educational Services. The money included roughly $57,000 from a bank account Cheri Drick closed on Feb. 11, 2003 — seven days after she had gained legal power of attorney for Farrington, Tomczak said.
"His internal bookkeeping listed this deposit simply as 'Gladys' Gift,'" Tomczak said.
A separate civil lawsuit filed on Farrington's behalf alleges that Cheri Drick funneled an additional $27,000 into Drick Educational Services in July 2003.
Wednesday's charges follow an intensive six-month investigation by Tomczak's office into the complex emotional, legal and financial relationship between the Dricks and Farrington. Joliet officials have been aware of a criminal investigation involving their fire chief since May, when Tomczak's office subpoenaed Joseph Drick's personnel records. The Dricks met the elderly woman in November 2002 when they offered her a ride after they noticed her "walking in the neighborhood on a particularly cold day," according to a court report filed in connection with a guardianship case involving Cheri Drick and Farrington. "What Gladys Farrington didn't realize was that the ride she was about to take would leave her unable to control — either legally or financially — the final years of her life," Tomczak said.
The state's attorney said the Dricks moved quickly to isolate the wealthy woman from friends and family. By February 2003, Cheri Drick had gained power of attorney for Farrington after her husband called a local attorney to make the arrangements, Tomczak said.
On Feb. 28, 2003, Cheri Drick had been designated the beneficiary of $900,000 in annuities, according to the state's attorney and court records. The original beneficiary was Farrington's church, the Cathedral of St. Raymond in Joliet.
Days later, Cheri Drick used her power of attorney to cash certificates of deposit worth $519,000, incurring early withdrawal penalties, Tomczak said.
All of Farrington's financial statements were being delivered to the Drick residence by April 2003, the state's attorney said. In May 2003, the couple cashed in a life insurance policy purchased by Farrington's parents when she was 13 years old.
And in October, Cheri Drick filed a petition seeking to become Farrington's legal guardian. The proceedings were derailed when local attorney Paul Boetto, whose family firm had represented Farrington for decades, noticed his client's name on the docket while he was in court on a separate case.
Cheri Drick has since been removed from all of Farrington's accounts. Will County Circuit Judge Herman Haase ordered her in February to stay away from the woman.
"Our job right now is to preserve as much of Mrs. Farrington's estate as we can," Tomczak said. "Right now we think there is about $200,000 from Mrs. Farrington's accounts that we might not be able to recover."
Bill Fitzgerald, the state's attorney's chief investigator, said the Dricks are still in possession of the Cadillac Escalade.
The Dricks' attorneys negotiated the terms of their surrender Wednesday afternoon. Defense attorney Joseph Polito, who represents Joseph Drick, said the former fire chief stands by comments he made in defense of his wife when The Herald News broke news of the criminal investigation in May.
"The relationship between my wife and Gladys Farrington was based upon friendship, respect, love and a deep mutual trust," Joseph Drick said in a written statement. "Further, that relationship included formal legal arrangements created by a respected, reputable, local attorney and made between two competent, consenting adults who entered into these arrangements of their own free will, fully understanding the decisions being made.
"I sincerely believe that my wife acted consistent with those arrangements; consistent with the advice of her counsel; fully within the authority legally granted to her; and, fully within the law," he wrote.
Tomczak noted during Wednesday's press conference that his office is alleging a conspiracy in this case. He stated publicly that his office is investigating the legal limits of the privilege protecting attorney-client communications.
Chet June, the local attorney who represented Cheri Drick in the guardianship case, declined to comment on the ongoing criminal investigation.
"Mrs. Drick was my client at one time," June said. "She is not my client anymore. And I just can't comment on it."
June voiced a "strenuous" objection in February when the court ordered Cheri Drick to have no contact with Gladys Farrington.
Farrington was contacted by The Herald News in May, but she declined to discuss the criminal investigation. "I don't want to talk bad about neighbors," she said of the Dricks.
The state's attorney said Farrington's ability to understand what was happening to her would be at issue in the criminal case.Omnis Cedo Domus
08-26-2004, 04:48 PM #7
Good job Drick
Nice way to blow a 113k a year job. If you are found guilty, you should spend some time in the Big House just north of you.IAFF-IACOJ PROUD
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