Local News

Ex-Fire Chief Faces Embezzlement Charges

Posted October 26, 2007

— A fire chief who was fired from his rural Harnett County department two months ago was charged Thursday with stealing money from the department, authorities said.

Joseph Michael Holmes, 35, of Sanford, was charged with 13 counts each of embezzlement and obtaining property by false pretense. He was released on a written promise to appear in court in December.

Holmes couldn't be reached for comment Friday. He was chief of Benhaven Emergency Services Inc., the non-profit organization that provides fire and paramedic coverage to the Barbecue Township area in western Harnett County, for about five years before he was fired in August.

The Harnett County Sheriff's Office began investigating the department's finances at about the same time as Holmes was fired.

Investigators said Holmes used nearly $8,300 from the department for personal use, including buying meals, gas and parts for his personal vehicle and building supplies at Lowe's. Many of the purchases were charged to department credit cards, authorities said.

Benhaven Emergency Services has an operating budget this year of about $425,000.


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  • whatusay Oct 28, 2007

    fedup2here....I take it that you aprove of illegal imigrants and letting them stay here and live off the American tax payers.

  • fedup2here Oct 28, 2007

    This was not a minor crime. Did you notice it carries 13 felony charges? It has nothing to do with illegal aliens and certainly wasn’t done to check and see if the auditors would catch it. The auditors are not the law.
    The money taken came from the taxpayers to fund the operation of that Fire Department. It could have gone for training, protective gear for the members, fire prevention education at the schools or wages for the firefighters. If this man is guilty he stole from the very people he was charged with protecting. How can anyone come up with justification for that?

  • nomorenc Oct 27, 2007

    these charges should be dropped immediately as should any criminal charges taken against any legal resident of the US. If being illegal is okay, then any illegal activity is okay in my opinion.

  • Moabit Oct 27, 2007

    Most of the members of Benhaven EMS have send a clear message and got rid of the president and what I believe was the vice president of the board. They are trying really hard to get it back to where it used to be. They want honest people that want to serve the community and not the ones that only want a rank but not the responsibilities. But it will take a while.

  • lovenursingnc Oct 27, 2007

    WRAL might want to look a little farther into the governing body (board of directors) for Benhaven Emergency Services. Mike Holmes had sexual harrassment charges brought against him in 2002 and the board of directors swept it under the carpet and made things difficult for the person making the charges. Many people knew the truth about Mike Holmes, but the board continued to back him again and again. It is tragic that they let it go so far.He hurt the community in so many ways!(as well as his family.)

  • MuddyBrute Oct 26, 2007

    Moabit....I stand correncted, sorry if I got a little confused on the exact position, never the less, he was still a higher ranking officer for the department to wich is supposed to be a leader of the membership. Not to mention all of the children he was around during fire prevention weak at Benhaven Elementry. All I can say is that I am so glad my children doesn't goto that school anymore and I didn't become a member of that department(like I started to do) when we lived there.

  • Moabit Oct 26, 2007

    Sorry gasman, the guy that got charged with soliciting a minor was not the asst. chief. He was captain. Lets not throw everybody in the same pot. But I agree that Benhaven needs a much needed overhaul. Starting with the current new chief,he was asst. chief when all this happened. He must have known something but did not tell.

  • Mad Baumer Oct 26, 2007

    The fire safety inspector for ++++ ++++++, NC was doing the same thing last year. He hit up new businesses for " gift cards, generators, free dental services" etc. before doing their city mandated inspections. A national chain who sells food and beverages finally blew the whistle.

  • retired and luv it Oct 26, 2007

    He should run for political office with talents like this he would go far.

  • MuddyBrute Oct 26, 2007

    Well, what do you know, that is twice in the last few months that Benhaven Emergency Services has been in the news. First the Assistant Cheif was charged in soilciting a minor. Now, The Cheif has been fired and charged with embezalment and or missapproation of department funds, it all kind of makes you wonder just what is exactly going on at Benhaven Emergency Services and how that organization is being ran. Maybe Harnett County Officials need to look further into the operation of this organization.