CALLAHAN, Fla. – The chief of a volunteer fire department in Nassau County has been charged with grand theft after he was accused of pocketing $23,000 from the department's account.
Jason Wall, 48, who is also the co-treasurer of the Ratliff Community Volunteer Fire Department, was taken into custody Tuesday.
Deputies said the investigation began Nov. 27 when the department's other co-treasurer, Stephen Bennett, called the Nassau County Sheriff's Office to report the theft.
Bennett told investigators that the bank had contacted him to say the volunteer fire department's account was overdrawn. Bennett began looking into it, because the department was inactive and under contract negotiations at the time, and there was no reason for the account to be empty, he said.
Bennett said he obtained printouts of the accounts and copies of all the checks that had been drawn on the account. Of the 33 cashed checks Bennett showed deputies, only four were legitimate, he said.
The rest had all been made out to and signed by Wall, according to the arrest report. The total was estimated to be around $23,000.
Wall had been the chief and co-treasurer of the department since December 2017.
Norman Bacon, who donated the land to the fire department, said he was in shock over the charges.
"This was supposed to be four our community out here," Bacon said. "I know the fire chief myself and I was very shocked and surprised by that, but that’s a crime."
Bacon said Wall is a technician at JTA and has had financial issues in the past.