Former treasurer stole more than $300,000 from volunteer fire department

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James Charles Botbyl. Source: Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office

CROSSVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The former treasurer of the Fairfield Glade Volunteer Fire Department has been convicted of stealing more than $300,000 from the organization.

An investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office, working in conjunction with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department, resulted in the conviction of James Charles Botbyl, the former treasurer for the Fairfield Glade Volunteer Fire Department in Cumberland County.

Investigators found Botbyl wrote 64 fire department checks totaling $302,303 payable to one of his two personal businesses and deposited them into this personal business accounts, according to a news release from the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office.

These checks ranged in amounts from $1,000 to $8,600.

RELATED: The full investigative report

These checks were written over a ten-month period from November 2017 through September 2018. Investigators determined that Botbyl’s businesses never provided any property or services to the fire department to justify these payments.

The theft was concealed by controlling and limiting the amount of financial information provided to the fire department’s board of directors, the news release said.

Botbyl was suspended by the fire department in September 2018.

The Comptroller’s Office investigation revealed that during the course of the scheme, Botbyl periodically deposited personal funds totaling $62,743 in the fire department’s bank accounts in an apparent effort to repay some of the stolen money. This left a final shortage of $239,560.

A Cumberland County Grand Jury indicted Botbyl in April on one count of theft over $60,000. He pleaded guilty to that charge on June 19.

“Several weaknesses allowed this theft to go undetected for several months,” said Tennessee Comptroller Justin P. Wilson. “Only one signature was required on fire department checks, and the former treasurer was the only person who reviewed the bank statements. I’m pleased to note the fire department and its board of directors have corrected these deficiencies.”

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