Florida Fire District the Latest Victim of Insider Theft

A secretary for the Holley Navarre Fire District has been charged with stealing nearly $56,000 from the firefighters’ pension fund.

Melissa Ann Severt, 44, stole the money over a four-year span by making cash withdrawals using a debit card. According to Fire Chief Ron Norton, “She… knew how to circumvent the process. She worked hand-in-hand with the auditors, so she knew what they were looking for and how to cover her tracks.”

The theft was discovered when bank employees noticed a large number of ATM withdrawals incurring fees. On December 7, 2016, they notified the treasurer of the fund, which in turn led to Severt. She was terminated immediately and the case turned over to police for investigation

Chief Norton was quoted by the Navarre Press as saying “She stole from the firefighters, who are here to serve the citizens. These are the same firefighters who volunteered their time and bought supplies out of their pockets to build Melissa a new front porch when she needed it. We all treated her like family, had full confidence in her and so this was the ultimate betrayal.”

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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