2nd Blount County fire chief convicted of felony theft
ONEONTA, Ala. (AP) — A 44-year-old Blount County fire chief has been convicted for cashing checks from the Summit Fire Department and depositing the money into her personal bank account.
Al.com reports a jury found Paula Robertson guilty of first-degree theft.
Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey said Robertson was arrested in 2016 and charged with converting more than $2,500 of public funds for personal use while serving as fire chief. Deputy State Fire Marshall Patrick Crockett obtained warrants for Robertson after receiving a tip from a volunteer firefighter.
“I appreciate the jury’s verdict. This is the second case resolved this week involving theft of public funds from a volunteer fire department here in Blount County,” Casey said Thursday.
Casey said Robertson will be sentenced and have a restitution hearing at a later date. Meanwhile, Casey said the trial court has restricted Robertson from having any contact with the Summit Volunteer and Rescue Department, where she’s continued to work since her arrest.
Michael Claude Watson, 50 and a previous chief at the Bangor Volunteer Fire Department, was arrested in 2013 on charges of using public funds in excess of $2,500. On Monday, he pleaded guilty to two felony crimes on charges of using public funds in excess of $2,500.
Watson paid for cellphone and internet service for family members and converted $1,476 in public funds to personal use while serving as fire chief.
“I know the actions of the two individuals involved in these matters are not reflective of the good character of the dozens of men and women in our communities who volunteer their time to serve as fire fighters and emergency medical personnel,” Casey said. “I also want to commend the individuals in each case who referred these matters to law enforcement for prosecution. I know it is not always easy to step forward and report public corruption. But, it is the right thing to do.”