FIRST ARRIVING NETWORK
First Arriving Network
Powered by the First Arriving Network, Reaching 1M+ First Responders Worldwide

Insider Theft Costs South Dakota Volunteer FD $170k

The former treasurer of a South Dakota volunteer fire department stands accused of stealing $170,000.

Denae Baustian, 46, of the Tea Fire Department in Lincoln County, was indicted last week by a grand jury on felony theft charges. The theft was discovered late last year.

Baustian had only been with the fire department since 2007, and became the treasurer in 2009. She apparently wasted no time, stealing the $170,000 over a 2 year period during which the department’s annual budget was around $100,000 per year.

Lincoln County State’s Attorney Tom Wollman says the amount will have a big impact the fire department, although Fire Department President Dale Cook says that residents are not in danger.

More in the story.

SHARE THIS
Looking for a Great Selection of Quality Used Fire Engines, Aerials & Rescues?
Click Here for Command Fire Apparatus

Comments - Add Yours

  • http://www.anthonybuono.com Anthony Buono

    Stories like this never seem to stop. Simple audits could prevent a lot of this I am sure. Of course there are cases where the theft is done in a sophisticated manner that avoids easy detection. But how does $170,000 go missing in a place with a $100,000 budget and no one notices sooner?

    Curt,
    Do you think that management is responsible for not catching thefts like this before they hit six figures?

  • http://firelawblog.com Curt Varone

    Anthony

    I suppose to the extent that “management” exists they are responsible – but in most VFDs – the “management” is not very sophisticated when it comes to financial matters – and there is often a sense of trust placed in folks who are willing to serve in positions like treasurer, president, etc. Everyone is too busy with their full time jobs, their family, and their other tasks in the department to be keeping an eye on anyone else… and no one wants to start stepping on someone else’s toes (except of course folks like you and me who understand stepping on toes comes with the turf). It is a situation that is ripe for insider theft.

    Audits are an important part of the solution – but many departments are faced with a lack of money for equipment and training – so to take $5-10k out for an audit means $5-10k less of something else. Again – you and I understand it is a necessary expense – but it can be a challenge to convince others.