The Jefferson County, Alabama sheriff’s department is pretty certain they have their person. The department, acting on a tip back in October, conducted a probe into the disappearance of nearly $50,000 in funds from Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 64, a group made up primarily of sheriff’s deputies in the county, which encompasses Birmingham. The suspect, though not yet charged with a crime, is a retired sheriff’s department secretary-treasurer. Prosecutors reportedly expect to file a charge of first-degree theft against the individual, who was not publicly identified.
The probe began after newly-elected FOP Lodge 64 President Robert Thompson took office. As required by the group’s by-laws, he obtained an independent audit of lodge financial records. At that point, the secretary, anticipating detection, contacted an attorney who in turn got in touch with FOP officials. “Once they called for an audit, she felt the theft would be found,” said sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Randy Christian. The audit had turned up $49,500 in missing funds, which prompted FOP officials to call for a sheriff’s investigation. Investigators say that the secretary wrote small checks to herself over a two- to three-year period under the guise of buying office supplies, reportedly to help out a financially troubled family member. “She fell into that trap when people are in a position of trust over money,” said Christian. “They start to take small amounts at a time thinking they can put it back before it’s noticed and before long it’s built up into a large amount.” (Birmingham News, 1/6/07).