KINGMAN — Criminal charges have been filed against a firefighter accused of embezzling funds from a rural fire district headquartered in Dolan Springs.
Phillip Picard, 31, is charged with 10 counts of forgery and single counts of fraud and theft in a complaint filed in Kingman Justice Court.
A Mohave County Sheriff’s Office investigation was initiated late last June after Lake Mohave Ranchos Fire District governing board and staff members conducted their own probe. It was initiated after LMRFD Administrative Assistant Karen Jackson discovered payroll anomalies on March 6, 2018.
A sheriff’s office report said that Jackson detected discrepancies in hours claimed and work performed by Picard. Fire District Board Chairman Debora Cass contacted the sheriff’s office to relay the findings of the internal investigation.
“It was discovered that a fireman, Phillip Picard, had embezzled over $24,000,” Detective Wes Bauer wrote in his sheriff’s office report. It said that Fire Chief Tony DeMaio reached an agreement with Picard that Picard would reimburse the district.
Picard wrote fire district board members on his own behalf expressing surprise that numerous time sheets had been submitted for dates and hours he did not work.
“I informed Chief DeMaio and Karen that I want to make this right with the district and reimburse whatever overpayment has been made,” Picard said in an undated statement that is quoted in Bauer’s report. “From the bottom of my heart I would never purposefully steal from the fire district and only want to make it right by paying all wages that were incorrectly paid to me.”
DeMaio informed governing board members by email on April 30, 2018, that Picard had completed repayment in full. Cass subsequently informed the sheriff’s office on multiple occasions that the fire district desired prosecution, regardless of the repayment.
The sheriff’s office report indicated that Picard moved out of state months ago. That residency issue might cause delays in case prosecution.