NJ Treasurer Rips VFD for $700k

The treasurer of a New Jersey fire district has been charged with stealing $700,000 from the district. Charles Hoens III is facing felony theft offenses for swindling the funds from South Brunswick Fire District 3 between October 2009 and November 2012.

According to Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey, Hoens wrote fire district checks and deposited them into his personal account. The amount stolen represents roughly two years worth of tax income for the district.

Hoens resigned and is being sued by the district for recovery of the funds. The district is also suing two banks, TD Bank and Bank of America, alleging they allowed the theft to occur.

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.
  • Andrew

    The linked article quotes Hoens as saying "it was a difference of opinion," which I suspect means Hoens thought the Fire District money was his, while the district thought it was theirs. If I were an officer with the checkbook, I would request a policy change requiring two signers on all checks, with the second signer being from outside the FD (preferably either the municipal finance officer or an elected official). PITA? Sure, but if it keeps me from getting in this sitution — whether through temptation, misinterpretation, or just plain bad luck — it would be worth it. There is not enough money in ANY fire department to be worth prison time.

    Hell, I'd just as soon turn the finances over to someone else, and remove myself from the loop altogether. Give me $50 for petty cash (when we run out of coffee filters, f'rinstance), and let someone else have the headaches.

  • Andrew

    Oh, and if I *had* to do it? Every check would be sent registered, return receipt… that way, I would have a trail that I sent the payment to the designated recipient. And someone else would have to sign any reimbursement checks to me.

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