HUMPHREYS COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Former Humphreys County District 6 Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jeffrey Staggs has been indicted after an investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office found he misappropriated $20,015.58 in both run call and SAFER grant funds.
According to the Comptroller’s Office, investigation showed that the funds were misappropriated between November 1, 2010 and April 10, 2018. Run call money is paid by the county in the form of $10 payments to firefighters for their participation in each emergency response call. SAFER grtants are incentive payments made by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to help fire departments increase and maintain the number of trained firefighters.
Staggs reportedly received 13 checks representing run call money for his firefighters totaling $18,910. He deposited $17,592.16 into District 6 bank accounts and kept $1,317.84 in cash that was not spent for fire-related purposes.
Investigation also showed Staggs spent at least $16,897.74 of the run call money on a variety of personal purchases including car payments, payments to various retail stores and restaurants, multiple cash withdrawals from ATMs, and more.
Staggs also reportedly abused his position by awarding SAFER participation points to his wife, who was also a member of the volunteer fire department. The point benefits totaled $1,800. Other District 6 members advised that the points she received were not commensurate with her involvement with the department.
Staggs reportedly had a pattern of inflating the number of staff participating in calls to collect additional run call money, but investigators could not discover the full problem because Staggs had reportedly destroyed the majority of the department’s records. Staggs claimed he was directed to destroy the records by the former county fire chief who was also indicted in 2017 for the misuse of firefighters’ money.
Staggs voluntarily retired from the fire department on April 23, 2019. In August 2020, Staggs was indicted on one count of theft over $10,000, one count of official misconduct, and one count of destruction and tampering with governmental records.