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.''