Official: Former Mint Hill fire chief embezzled to support gambling habit

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by ELIZABETH THOMAS / WCNC.com

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WCNC.com

Posted on November 27, 2012 at 3:10 PM

MINT HILL, N.C. -- The U.S. Attorney's Office announced Tuesday that 38-year-old Jeremy K. Russell, former fire chief of the Mint Hill Volunteer Fire Department, has agreed to plead guilty to public corruption.

Prosecutors say Russell embezzled more than $225,000 from the town of Mint Hill, as well as the fire department.

According to the charges filed in U.S. District Court, Russell used his position as a fire chief to steal and embezzle from those instituions, along with the taxpayers who supported them, from May 2010 to April 2012.

Officials allege Russell set up a "sham corporation" doing business by the name "Regional Medic & First Responder Supply Connection", with a corresponding bank account in Regional Medic's name that Russell personally controlled. They continued that Russell submitted "bogus" invoices from Regional Medic for equipment and services that were never rendered or supplied to the fire department.

The payments on the "bogus" invoices were sent to a mail drop set-up by Russell, who would then deposit the payments into his "sham corporation" bank account.

Prosecutors say Russell used the more than $225,000 embezzeld funds to support his personal lifestyle and gambling habit.

On Tuesday, Russell plead guilty to one count of embezzlement as part of a plea agreement. Officials say in return for his guilty plea, subject to court approval, Russell will pay full resitution.

The charge carries a maximum prison term of 10 years and a fine of $250,000.

 

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