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Former fire chief charged with embezzlement


SUE:..TODD SZAKACS — THE FORMER FIRE CHIEF IN CUTLERVILLE AND BYRON TOWNSHIP — IS NOW CHARGED WITH TWO FELONIES.POLICE SAY HE BOUGHT ITEMS WITH TAXPAYERS MONEY… THAT NEVER MADE IT INTO THE FIREHOUSE. IT’S A STORY WE BROKE FIRST THIS MORNING ON WOOD TV DOT COM. 3 NEWS 8’S JOE LAFURGEY IS LIVE IN CUTLERVILLE CONTINUING OUR COVERAGE.JOE? 3 JOE:..THE ALLEGED EMBEZZLEMENT HAPPENED IN 2017… AND INVOLVES A CREDIT CARD ISSUED BY THE CONTRACTOR DOING RENOVATION WORK HERE AT THE FIRE STATION, TO SZAKACS. 3 NOT ONLY WAS TODD SZAKACS FIRE CHIEF FOR BOTH THE CUTLERVILLE AND BYRON TOWNSHIP FIRE DEPARTMENT AT ONE TIME…HE WAS ALSO THE POINT PERSON FOR A REMODELING PROJECT AT THE FIREHOUSE THAT BEGAN IN 2016.((SGT. JOEL ROON, KENT COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPT./I THINK IT WOULD BE SAFE TO SAY HE WAS A THE PROJECT MANAGER FOR THE RENOVATION PROJECT. ))HE WAS ISSUED A CREDIT CARD TO BUY ITEMS FOR THE FIRE DEPARTMENT BY THE PROJECT’S HOLLAND BASED CONTRACTOR … NOT THE TOWNSHIP. 3 ((SGT. JOEL ROON, KENT COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPT./ANY PURCHASES MADE FOR THE PROJECT WERE THEN DOCUMENTED VIA RECEIPT.THOSE RECEIPTS WERE TURNED INTO THE CONTRACTOR… CL CONSTRUCTION. CL CONSTRUCTION WOULD THEN INVOICE THE TOWNSHIPS , WHO WOULD REIMBURSE THEM.)) INVESTIGATORS SAY THE CONTRACTOR… WHO HAS BEEN CLEARED OF ANY WRONG DOING IN THE CASE… IS COOPERATING WITH INVESTIGATION. 3 ((DOOR KNOCK.))NO ONE ANSWER THE DOOR AT SZAKACS HOME. AND NEITHER THE GAINES OR BYRON TOWNSHIP SUPERVISORS… WHO WERE NOT IN OFFICE WHEN THE ALLEGED EMBEZZLEMENT OCCURRED… WOULD COMMENT ON HOW THE PURCHASES WENT UNNOTICED BY TOWNSHIP OFFICIALS?THE LAWYER FOR BOTH TOWNSHIPS COULD NOT SAY WHETHER EITHER TOWNSHIP KNEW SZAKACS HAS BEEN ISSUED THE CREDIT CARD. BY 2018…THERE WAS TROUBLE IN THE FIREHOUSE. SZAKACS WAS ACCUSED OF INSTALLING SURVEILLANCE EQUIPMENT TO EAVESDROP ON FIRE FIGHTERS.THERE WAS AN INVESTIGATION… BUT THE PROSECUTOR DECLINE TO ISSUE CHARGES. IN DECEMBER OF LAST YEAR… SZAKACS RESIGNED AS CUTLERVILLE’S CHIEF… BUT KEPT HIS JOB AS BYRON TOWNSHIP CHIEF. THAT ENDED IN JUNE WHEN HE WAS FIRED BY THE TOWNSHIP FOR AN UNKNOWN REASON.WHILE CLEANING OUT SZAKACS’ OFFICE… CUTLERVILLE FIRE PERSONNEL CAME ACROSS RECEIPTS FOR ITEMS THEY NEVER SAW AT THE STATION. INCLUDING A LAP TOP, A GENERATOR AND A GRILL. DEPUTIES GOT INVOLVED. A SEARCH OF SZAKACS’ HOLLAND AREA HOME TURNED UP SOME OF THE ITEMS. INVESTIGATORS STOPPED SHORT OF SAYING SZAKACS CONFESSED…((SGT. JOEL ROON, KENT COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPT./WHILE HE ACKNOWLEDGED THAT SOME OF THESE ITEMS WERE FROM THE RENOVATION PROJECT, IT WAS REPRESENTED AS MORE OF AN OVERSIGHT, THAN IT WAS CRIMINAL INTENT.)) 3 JOE:..AN ATTORNEY FOR BOTH TOWNSHIPS ISSUED A STATEMENT SAYING THEY WILL CONTINUE TO WORK WITH THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT AS INVESTIGATORS BUILD THEIR CASE. SZAKASC IS FREE ON BOND.LIVE IN CUTLERVILLE, JOE LAFURGEY, NEWS 8. 3

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