Local News

Ex-fire chief indicted on embezzlement charges

Posted June 11, 2008 4:29 p.m. EDT
Updated June 11, 2008 11:07 p.m. EDT

— A fire chief who was fired from his rural Harnett County department was indicted Wednesday on 13 counts each of embezzlement and obtaining property by false pretense.

Joseph Michael Holmes, 35, of Sanford, 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 2007.

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.