New procedures were put in place and a firefighter was disciplined as part of an audit of the White River Township Fire Department’s finances.
State lawmakers recently approved legislation that requires specific procedures for local government spending, including separating duties for better checks and balances. When the White River Fire Department began putting those changes into place, they found some questionable purchases by the fire department, Chief Jeremy Pell said.
Fire department officials and the Indiana State Board of Accounts, which audits local government finances, looked more specifically into the purchases. They found Lt. Jason Bailey, who was tasked with purchasing fire department items, had purchased clothing for firefighters from his wife’s company without filing a conflict of interest form, and that he had used the department’s rewards points on a camera that was not an approved purchase by the fire department, Pell said. Bailey also purchased a duffelbag that had not been approved by the department, Pell said.
No money was ever missing from the fire department, Pell said.
The concern with the clothing purchased from Bailey’s wife’s company was that he had not filed a conflict of interest form, as required by state law, Pell said. Bailey told fire officials he had filed a form years ago, under a former fire chief, but the law requires the form to be filed each year, Pell said.
Bailey paid for the camera and duffelbag, which he intended to use for fire department work, after the purchases were not approved by the fire department, Pell said.
Bailey could not be reached Tuesday and Wednesday.
After the audit was done, information was sent to Indiana State Police. The investigation was discussed with the prosecutor’s office, and no charge was filed because Bailey had no criminal intent and did not criminally profit from the items being purchased, Prosecutor Brad Cooper said.
The fire department had also been getting a discounted price on the clothing purchases from Bailey’s wife’s company, saving money, Cooper and Pell said.
Internal fire department disciplinary charges were filed against Bailey, including neglect of duty, substandard performance and violating departmental policy, and he was removed from the purchasing position and suspended for 76 hours, according to the disciplinary case filing.
“We discovered it, took the right steps, he was humble and apologetic, and he accepted his discipline. We are going to move on with a good employee,” Pell said.