GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A former volunteer fire chief who seemed to care deeply about his community is now accused of stealing approximately $634,000 from his department.
David MacBean, 41, has bonded out of jail after he was arrested on charges of embezzlement of public property and theft. CBS4 interviewed MacBean multiple times during wildfire reports in recent years, including after the deadly Lower North Fork Fire in March 2012.
The Inter-Canyon Fire Protection District in Jefferson County is funded by a mill levy property tax. As the chief, MacBean had access to two of the district’s bank accounts and was issued a district credit card.
According to a six-count indictment handed down by a Jefferson County grand jury, MacBean is accused of stealing the money during a three year period. In 2010 he allegedly took approximately $193,000, then $167,000 in 2011 and $283,000 in 2012.
Although there are district accountants and a treasurer, the indictment states MacBean frequently failed to provide credit card receipts. His co-workers also allegedly mistakenly trusted that he would be acting in the best interests of the district.
“The betrayal is really incredible,” district resident Candace Read told CBS4.
READ: View the MacBean indictment (Word Doc.)
MacBean alleged spent about half of the money at the website Amazon.com and the rest was spent at retail stores like Big R in Conifer, where his purchases included firearms and ammunition.
Property owners in the wildfire-prone district have high regard for the fire department, and MacBean had become a familiar face.
“The former chief was a leader of the district but also a friend to many of us,” Deputy Chief Dan Hatlestad said.
The investigation was triggered in January by the district’s audit during a transfer of responsibilities to a new district treasurer. The district identified discrepancies in purchases that were not supported by documentation.
The district attorney’s office began their investigation in March and that evidence was presented to the grand jury. The indictment was signed by the court on Tuesday.
“It’s more than robbery, it’s like assault on the county,” Read said.
A month before MacBean left the fire district his house burned. There was significant interior damage and several outside agencies investigated the incident. The cause of the fire remains unknown.
MacBean is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 2.