Former volunteer fire department treasurer indicted on theft charges

Crime Tracker

COFFEE COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A former Volunteer Fire Department treasurer has been indicted for stealing from the department.

Investigators with the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office say Kenneth Spry stole over $3,000 from the Hickerson Station Volunteer Fire Department in Coffee County between November 2016 and July 2018. Most of the money was stolen from fundraiser collections.

Spry did not deposit cash that the department received during a door-to-door fundraising effort in 2017 and 2018. Instead, he kept the cash for his personal benefit.

According to investigators, Spry also used the department’s debit card to buy a $105.78 fuel pump for a 2004 Ford Ranger pickup truck. County records reveal Spry owned a 2004 Ford Ranger at the time the fuel pump was purchased.

Spry admitted to investigators he withheld money from fundraiser collection and used the department’s debit card to buy a fuel pump for his personal truck. He resigned as treasurer effective on July 5, 2018.

In May 2021, the Coffee County Grand Jury indicted Spry on one count of theft over $2,500. Investigators also questioned over $2,500 of fire department disbursements that included withdrawals made at ATM machines and debit card charges at retailers like Home Depot and local restaurants. However, investigators say they were unable to determine who was responsible for the disbursements or whether the department received any benefit.

Investigators also found the fire department chief charged $105.81 to the department’s O’Reilly Auto Parts account. When asked about the charges, the chief told investigators he made two purchases from the store to fix a personal vehicle being used for “department errands.”

“Our investigators identified several shortcomings in the way the fire department handled its finances,” said Comptroller Jason Mumpower. “We have recommended the department improve its controls by taking steps such as requiring two signatures on checks, requiring and retaining documentation for disbursements, and carefully reviewing bank statements.”

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Anyone who suspects fraud, waste or abuse of public money in Tennessee is asked to call the Comptroller’s toll-free hotline at 800-232-5454, or click here to file a report online.

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