Iowa Volunteer Fire Department the Victim of Insider Money Mischief

Another investigation into alleged financial misdealings by a trusted fire service leader is making headlines, this time in Iowa where a state audit has concluded that the fire chief “misspent” at least $96,000.

Denison Volunteer Fire Department’s former fire chief, Mike McKinnon, who joined the department in  January, 1999 and resigned in January, 2010, stands accused by the State Auditor David Vaudt of making $96,000 in “improper and unsupported disbursements”, including some to fictitious companies and others owned by McKinnon.

The 20 month investigation was prompted by the concern of local officials, and focused on the period from 2005 to 2010. During that time, McKinnon used department funds to purchase personal items such as a motor for his pontoon boat, a digital camera, web cams, GPS units, a riding lawn mower, a snowblade and several plexiglass sheets which were later found installed at his home .

Of even bigger concern were thousands of dollars in payments to non-existent businesses and businesses that McKinnon owned with incomplete or no documentation for what the payments were for.

During the course of the investigation, McKinnon reportedly told investigators that he was willing to repay $12,000 which he had made to one of his companies if the case would be closed. As of yet, no charges have been filed in the case.

The auditor’s report recommends strong policies and procedures for purchases, including approvals for all transactions, and enhanced documentation requirements.

To see the Auditors Report

For more on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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