An eastern Lincoln County firefighter turned himself into Sheriff’s detectives Wednesday morning on accusations he embezzled from two area fire departments where he worked.
Lee Thomas Keever, 36, of 7225 Caley Lane in Denver, has been charged with two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses and released on a $10,000 unsecured bond, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Detectives said Keever stole nearly $22,000 from Denver and East Lincoln Fire Departments over the last three years, according to Denver’s Public Information Officer, Dion Burleson.
At the time of the alleged crimes, Keever was working part-time as a battalion chief at Denver Fire Department and full-time as a captain at East Lincoln Fire Department, Burleson said.
Burleson said Keever served at least a decade at East Lincoln Fire Department and half that time with Denver Fire Department.
Detectives said the seasoned firefighter not only turned in fake receipts, including a more than $17,000 charge to East Lincoln officials and a nearly $4,000 charge to Denver officials, but also submitted fraudulent invoices for both fire department equipment and tuition for educational studies.
Keever also purchased items at various county businesses without permission and claimed he completed certain work duties he never actually carried out, the release said.
Fire officials with both agencies contacted the Sheriff’s Office on July 15 about the alleged criminal activity.
Since the departments used different accounting firms, each department made it through an audit without spotting the discrepancy in funds, fire officials said.
Once suspicious-looking invoices were discovered, East Lincoln fire officials contacted Denver’s Chief Flynn, who also noticed similar issues with his department’s finances, Burleson said.
Co-workers were devastated by news of possibly the biggest scandal to ever rock either department, fire officials said.
According to a joint-agency press release released Wednesday, insurance policies will cover the financial losses.
Fire officials also noted the incident does not reflect the true nature of either department since both Denver and East Lincoln are committed to maintaining integrity and trust throughout the community. Burleson added recent events will also not affect agency response times.
Detectives Mark Stamey, Richard Calhoun and Lt. Tim Johnson conducted the more than week-long investigation.
Keever had his first court appearance on the charges on Thursday.