Alabama volunteer fire chief accused of stealing department money, sheriff says

Published 1:25 pm Wednesday, January 24, 2024

An Alabama volunteer fire chief was arrested Tuesday and charged with stealing the fire department’s money.

The fire chief of the Libertyville Volunteer Fire Department was been arrested Tuesday and is accused of misappropriating department funds, Covington County Sheriff’s Office investigators said.

Jared Ethan Watson, who was serving as the Libertyville fire chief, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with first degree theft of property.

According to Sheriff Blake Turman, the volunteer department’s board of directors met on Dec. 16, 2023 and discussed “several discrepancies on their bank statement,” which prompted a deeper look into the department’s financial records.

The board unanimously voted to turn their findings over the sheriff’s office to investigate a possible crime.

The fire department’s board president provided CCSO investigators with financial records and through a collaborative effort it was determined that Watson had misappropriated or stole funds on numerous occasions which led to his arrest, according to the sheriff’s office.

The amount of funds allegedly stolen has not been disclosed.

“Volunteer firefighters are vital assets to our community and bad decisions of one should not shade over the hard work and unselfishness of others,” Turman said. “If you get into financial distress, don’t turn to the criminal element to overcome it. I pray for the Watson family and the Libertyville community to move forward.”

Watson was booked into the Covington County Jail with a $20,000 bond.