Local News

Ex-Fire Chief Faces Embezzlement Charges

Posted October 26, 2007 4:58 p.m. EDT
Updated October 26, 2007 10:27 p.m. EDT

— 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.