Another Case of Theft in the Volunteer Fire Service

A New Jersey volunteer firefighter has been sentenced in Federal District Court for stealing $589,000 from his fire company. Charles V. Mancini III, 46, of the New Sharon Volunteer Fire Department will serve four years and four months in prison. Upon his release he will be on probation for an additional three years, plus must make restitution for $505,000.

Mancini admitted to stealing $90,000 in one unauthorized “loan” transaction, and then in 2009 he stole some $449,000 in insurance proceeds that was intended to rebuild the New Sharon fire station following a devastating fire in 2008 that destroyed the station and its apparatus.

In open court on Monday, March 21, 2011, several members of the fire company spoke harshly of Mancini at his sentencing, suggesting to the judge he may even have set the fire that destroyed the station. Mancini has denied involvement in the fire, which was originally ruled accidental.

The Mancini-New Sharon theft is the 52nd case that I have been able to verify and document where large sums of money have been stolen from a volunteer fire company in the United States since 2008. These thefts follow an all too familiar pattern of insider control of finances, coupled with blind trust by fire company members. This number is troubling and speaks to the need for all volunteer fire departments to take steps to address their financial security.

Over the years when the thefts occurred, Mancini served as either fire company president or treasurer.

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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