Embezzlement probe underway at Park City Fire District
Ryan Summerlin September 10, 2013
A Park City Fire District employee left the district in late August amid an embezzlement investigation, Fire Chief Paul Hewitt acknowledged on Tuesday.
Hewitt declined to discuss details about the case and did not identify the former employee by name or position. It is not known how long the person worked for the Fire District. Hewitt would not discuss the amount of money suspected to be involved or the source of the money.
"We took administrative action and he no longer works here," Hewitt said.
The fire chief said an internal investigation was conducted and the matter has since been turned over to the Summit County Attorney’s Office. He declined to discuss whether the employee was fired or whether the person resigned after the administrative action was taken.
County Attorney David Brickey said the Fire District initially contacted the Summit County Sheriff’s Office with the case within the past 60 days. The Sheriff’s Office then approached the attorney’s office, Brickey said. The Fire District’s administrative offices are in the Snyderville Basin although the district is responsible for firefighting in Park City and the surrounding unincorporated areas.
Brickey also declined to discuss the amount that could be involved and did not provide details about the person under investigation. He said he was not yet sure of the time period when an embezzlement might have occurred.
Brickey said suspected financial crimes are time-consuming cases to investigate. He said it could be up to another year before he determines whether to file charges in the Fire District case.
He said it is "discouraging" when he must investigate public servants such as a member of the Fire District.
The investigation involving the Fire District is ongoing as Summit County prosecutors are continuing a case against a former Park City Police Department sergeant charged with embezzling upward of $65,000 over a five-year span. The former sergeant faces five felony charges between three separate cases stemming from the investigation. Preliminary hearings are scheduled on Sept. 23.
Embezzlement cases involving public agencies like the Fire District and the Police Department are rare in Park City and surrounding Summit County.