Texas Chief Arrested by FBI

A Texas fire chief who was planning to retire at the end of the year has been arrested by the FBI and charged with stealing pension funds. Denton County Emergency Services District No. 1 Fire Chief Mac Hohenberger was arrested at Dallas Fort Worth Airport as he returned from Las Vegas.

The charges appear to be related to a lawsuit filed last year by a firefighter who was terminated for “asking too many questions” about a 401(k) plan that Chief Hohenberger managed for employees. Harold Ring filed the suit contending the chief yelled at him and later fabricated allegations that led to his termination due to concerns he raised about the fund, which according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram had assets in excess of $3.4 million. The suit alleges mismanagement of the fund and wrongful termination.

Some media outlets are reporting that Chief Hohenberger has already retired while others report he plans to retire at the end of the year. His replacement,  Ricky Vaughan, is scheduled to take over in January.

Updated November 19, 2022: According to the Dallas Morning News, Chief Hohenberger was indicted by a federal grand jury on 13 counts. The indictments were sealed and made public after his arrest on Friday. Quoting from the Dallas Morning News, the indictment included: “three counts of theft or bribery concerning programs using federal funds, five counts of theft or embezzlement from an employee benefit plan, and five counts of making false statements.” The News quoted from the indictment as alleging “Hohenberger accessed, stole, used, embezzled and willfully abstracted and converted funds from the AFD Operating Account for his own needs and purposes.”

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 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, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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