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Virginia's Middleburg VFD says treasurer & radio personality who committed suicide embezzled a half million dollars from department. Criminal investigation ongoing.

From Middleburg VFD website

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Leesburg Today reports that at a press conference this evening in Middleburg, Virginia it was disclosed that a criminal investigation, still ongoing, has determined that close to $500,000 in funds are missing from the Middleburg Volunteer Fire Department. According to the paper’s website, a statement from attorney Ed MacMahon Jr. indicates the money was embezzled over the last three years by Paul Draisey the department’s treasurer. MacMahon is representing the fire department. Draisey committed suicide on April 16. Draisey was also a long time radio personality in Loudoun County.

The money lost includes donations and funds from both the Town of Middleburg and Loudoun County.

From Leesburg Today’s Erika Jacobson Moore:

The county government will be conducting an audit of the fire department. The results of that audit will be made public at the “first available date,”  MacMahon said, but he added there is no indication when that would be.

The board of the volunteer company is hopeful that it can recoup “some, if not all, of these losses” through insurance policies that were already in place, MacMahon said.

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  • Pingback: Middleburg VFD Embezzlement Investigation After Treasurer Commits Suicide | VAFireNews.com - Fire & EMS News()

  • the ear

    When is Loudoun County going to take over the fire department so they will have control.True things like this will happen but the Loudoun County administration just keeps on giving out money to people who have no idea how to manage it.
    This is only the tip of the iceberg I am sure there is more to follow.
    One of the richest counties in the U.S. with virtually no oversight of fire and rescue.

    • The Eye

      “The Ear” is correct. Loudoun County is unable to keep track of what happens to the money that it provides to the 17 volunteer departments. This is because the volunteer departments mix the county funds from property taxes with their own funds from contributors in their bank accounts, so it is impossible to determine whose money has been ripped off when it is embezzled. Loudoun County should require that the volunteer departments place the county funds in separate trust bank accounts and that those bank account statements be sent to the county for auditing. If Loudoun County does not take control of the millions in county funds that it provides to the volunteer departments then the problem will continue and more taxpayer money may be stolen by thieves who get themselves elected as directors and officers with access to the volunteer departments’ bank accounts.

  • the spleen

    Did this have something to do with the clash last year between Loudoun County and Middleburg VFD mentioned here?

    http://statter911.com/2011/07/21/career-volunteer-battle-in-loudoun-county-virginia-staffing-pulled-from-middleburg-vfd-after-heated-words/

  • The Eye

    “The Ear” is correct. Loudoun County is unable to keep track of what happens to the money that it provides to the 17 volunteer departments. This is because the volunteer departments mix the county funds from property taxes with their own funds from contributors in their bank accounts, so it is impossible to determine whose money has been ripped off when it is embezzled. Loudoun County should require that the volunteer departments place the county funds in separate trustee bank accounts and that those bank account statements be sent to the county for auditing. If Loudoun County does not take control of the millions in county funds that it provides to the volunteer departments then the problem will continue and more taxpayer money may be stolen by thieves who get themselves elected as directors and officers with access to the volunteer departments’ bank accounts.

  • The Eye

    To “The Spleen”,

    No, this scandal has nothing to do with last year’s problem between the Middleburg Volunteer Fire Department and Loudoun County. I believe that issue had to do with immature and depraved behavior by some of the volunteers. I feel sorry for the few remaining Middleburg volunteers. I do not see how their department is going to survive if they lose the respect of their community and cannot raise money from charitable contributions. Middleburg’s gross income during its 2009-2010 fiscal year was $366,810, of which $188,661 came from charitable contributions and grants, $166,294 came from Loudoun County, and $11,855 came from dues, investment income, fundraising events, and reimbursements. It is possible that Middleburg will end up folding, in which case the county will automatically acquire the property and fire equipment and will staff it 24/7/365 with career firefighters.

    • T-Bone

      The Eye,

      Middleburg’s station is already staffed 24/7/365 by Loudoun County Fire Rescue’s career firefighters. That’s an engine company, tanker, and medic unit.

      If Middleburg folded tonight, the citizens could save $366,810.00, because the staffing I just mentioned is already in place and comes from a separate budget.

      So why do tax payers have to double pay for fire protection?

      IMHO, Middleburg is about to see the same fate as the Gainesville VFD in Prince William County did.

  • The Right Index Finger

    WTF!???

  • Heather

    Why do you hide behind names?

    • dave statter

      Heather,

      If you were the one who wrote the anonymous message two minutes before this one from the same IP address, I had to kill it because of the language used. If you are not, so sorry.

      Statter

    • dave statter

      Yes Heather that is apparently you. I just got the repeat of the message with the name Heather attached. The only who will see that message is me. If you would like people to see your point of view on this you are going to have to tone it down just a bit.

      Statter

  • The Eye

    To “T-Bone” – Thanks for the explanation about the 24/7/365 career staffing at Middleburg. I did not know that. Can you tell us what the few remaining volunteers are actually staffing in their own station and when they are on duty? I agree with you that Middleburg will probably end up just like the Gainesville Volunteer Fire Department, with the county taking over the volunteer fire department because of a scandal caused by a few unethical and incompetent so-called “leaders” who are out-of-control.

    To “Heather” (if that is your real name) – The reason that we are “hiding” behind pseudonyms is because we are at risk of retaliation from our superiors in the volunteer and career departments who disagree with our personal opinions, particularly when when we also criticize them! This is a very real problem in the volunteer/career fire service, which you should be aware of if you are inside the fire service.

    • T-Bone

      The Eye,

      Middleburg volunteers could only manage to come to their firehouse 1 or 2 nights a week and put up a 2nd engine. The 2nd engine is the one pictured in the header of this story next to the police car.

      To add, the 2nd and 3rd due companies to Middleburg (Aldie 607, and Philimont 608) are also staffed by career 24/7/365). Both are housed at VFDs, but volunteers never pull duty nights and staff apparatus. That’s yet another case of paying double for a product you get nothing out of.

      This is not a knock on Loudoun’s volunteer fire service. Look at Leesburg and Sterling. Those two companies are examples of a wise investment and getting your money’s worth.

      So again, is it a wise investment of $366,810 by the citizens of Middleburg and Loudoun County if you can only get a single engine 1 or 2 nights a week? I think not.

      • Dave

        Who purchased the apparatus that the career staff ride on 24/7/365? How ’bout the building they stay in while not riding the apparatus.

        I’m not saying that there won’t be a cost-savings by having the county take over the station, but there might not be a full 300K+ in savings.

  • Curious

    Do all volunteer companies get the same county contribution, regardless of whether they have 24/7 career staffing or no career staffing at all?

    • The Nose

      No, some get much less, some get more. Depends on the station and number of apparatus, medical supplies needed etc. Lucketts gets about $130,00 a year. 24/7 career staffing and the volunteers don’t ever staff anything because there is only 3 “active” ones. Again, another waste of taxypayer money.

  • T-Bone

    Curious,

    The county does not subtract money from volunteer company bugets if they have any sort of career staffing, be it 12 hour day or 24 hour coverage.

    On the same note, there is no additional funding for the two volunteer rescue squads who remain the only organizations without career staffing.

    Of course, those two organizations are never fully staffed 24/7/365. If you don’t believe me, ask the medics from Fairfax County stations 404, 439, and Loudoun’s Moorefield Station 623 about the days Sterling Volunteer Rescue Squad doesn’t have a medic or ambulance staffed. But that’s another story or it’s own, so lets just stick to the Middleburg incidents.

  • The Eye

    I think that the volunteer companies receive money from Loudoun County in proportion to the number of calls that they ran during the previous year. For example, if one volunteer company ran 10% of all volunteer calls run, then that company will receive approximately 10% of the county funds available to all volunteer companies the following year. Those companies that run more calls therefore receive more money than those that run fewer calls. All of the volunteer companies (except for Sterling Volunteer Rescue) have career staff working in their stations either 24/7/365, 12/7/365 or some other schedule depending on the number and availability of volunteers to staff the equipment.

    • The Rock

      The new Kincora Fire-Rescue Station 624 will be supplemented with career personnel, so pretty soon Sterling Volunteer Rescue Squad won’t be able to make the “100% Volunteer” claim.

  • The Foot

    I think you’ll find that the Sterling VRS has their stations staffed with either an ambulance or medic (if not both) 24/7/365. There is always at least 1 medic at 615, and usually 1 medic but always 1 ambulance at 625. At nights, there is usually 1 of each at each station. True, when they go 2 or 3 calls deep, 404, 439 or 623 need to assist… but if folks would stop calling 911 for things like “my knee hurts”, or “I threw up”, then the coverage would last longer.

    I believe 614 is also all volunteer, although there is a career chase medic at that end of the county.

    This chain is about Middleburg, true, but it was starting to reek of volunteer bashing just a bit. I only ask that we all remember that there are “scandals” that plague both sides of all systems, and one can’t simply paint any single incident as a broad generality. It’s just not fair.

    • T-Bone

      The Foot,

      Should we FOIA records to see if your claim that 615 and 625 are staffed 24/7/365? I bet you are not telling us the entire truth.

      I know for certain there are times when SVRS is not staffed, and other companies have been a couple deep in your first due.

  • DFTMS

    The County contributions to these stations is primarily used for building maintenance, utilities, insurance premiums, vehicle maintenance, gear, fuel, and replacing equipment on the apparatus. The County can shut down the volunteer operations, take over the buildings, apparatus, and equipment and pay all the bills. $130,000.00 does not go very far these days with fuel cost and older buildings. So the savings would be minimal. The new stations cost a fortune just heating and cooling them. It doesn’t matter if the volunteers are in station, responding, or not, the cost to maintain the facility and apparatus is the same. Yearly OUTSIDE audits need to be done at ALL the stations without the F&R Commissions involvement period.

  • Reality

    This problem is caused by leadership or lack of. This fire Company has allowed it’s leadership to pick who manages what within the department. If your Volunteer Chief can’t Manage his/her own life what make you think they can manage a Fire Department. All I am saying is that when one person is manages everthing, then things like this happen reguardless of how they got there money.

    It’s not a issue of Loudoun giving them the money, it’s who’s managing it. I have seen ths problem before, you must have checks and balances. You cannot have six members controlling everything. Volunteers can do a good job in some cases better the most career people that I know, but its about the pride you take in you job and not the glory you seek. Greed can get the best of people even if the are a great guy! If any of you had hundreds of thousands of dollars staring you in the face with a bunch of kids to report back to, you might let greed get the best of you. You might not just depends upon if your life is going good. I don’t know this gentleman but I have never heard anything bad about him, but I will say he has paid the the ultimate price for what he did. Who knows why he took it? These comments only make it hard for the family to hold on the positive things that he has done.

  • The Eye

    “Reality” made a very good point, which is that it is the character of the volunteer who has access to the department’s money that determines whether the department’s money is at risk of embezzlement or not. An honorable volunteer will not embezzle, while a dishonorable volunteer might. So how does a volunteer department protect itself from a dishonorable volunteer who could rob them blind? The first step is to perform comprehensive criminal record checks of all current volunteers and all new applicants to find out if they have hidden criminal records that would disqualify them from even being in the volunteer department. Unfortunately the free criminal record checks provided by the Virginia State Police to all volunteer fire and rescue departments in Virginia do not provide any criminal record information from outside the state of Virginia. This is because the Virginia State Police database only contains information reported by law enforcement agencies in Virginia. This means that a person convicted of embezzlement in another state will not turn up in a Virginia State Police criminal record check. Do you see a problem here? The only way to find out if a person has a criminal record outside of Virginia is for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office to perform the criminal record checks for all of the volunteer departments using the FBI’s National Crime Information Center computer system. The second step is to perform “due diligence” background investigations on all volunteers who have access to the department’s (and the county taxpayers’) money. This can be done by paying to obtain a comprehensive “due diligence” report from a commercial search service, which will provide a picture of the person’s financial condition. A person who has massive debt with unpaid bills and tax payments, and a history of being sued for non-payment of bills and filing for bankruptcy, is the wrong person to allow to become the Treasurer of a volunteer fire department. I doubt that the Middleburg Volunteer Fire Department thought to check out their Treasurer’s financial condition and just assumed that he must be a good fiduciary risk because he was a successful businessman. Perhaps we will know more about that after the LCSO’s investigation is finished. The third step is for Loudoun County to require that the volunteer fire departments deposit the county funds they receive into separate trust bank accounts so that the monthly statements are also sent to the Loudoun County Treasurer’s office and the county can then regularly audit the trust accounts. I think that taking these three steps will eliminate 99% of the risk of any more embezzlement scandals.