Winter Haven, Florida-- Police Detectives arrested retired Winter Haven Fire Department lieutenant Darrell Conatser, 54, after uncovering his theft of nearly $10,000 from the Winter Haven Fireman's Assoc., Inc.
On March 13, board members from the fireman's association contacted police to report newly-found funding inconsistencies, saying it appeared that someone was using the organization's money inappropriately.
The Association, funded through community and business donations and annual fundraisers, normally uses the funds to help citizens impacted by a fire, or as a contribution to maintaining the organization, reports say.
Conaster, the association's president at the time of the investigation, and for several years prior, retired as a Winter Haven firefighter just one day after the WHPD and Polk County deputies began to investigate.
Reports say he was at the center of their investigation, which ultimately revealed his use of a Winter Haven Fireman's Assoc., Inc. debit/ATM card.
Conaster started using the card in February 2010, and spent nearly $10,000 over the two-and-a-half years.
Transactions included cash withdrawals, personal electric payments to Lakeland Electric, numerous fuel purchases, rental equipment in Louisiana, hotel stays in Georgia and a purchase at a pawn shop in Tennessee, officials report.
Conaster, who served Winter Haven as a fire fighter for almost 26 years, was arrested at his home in Lakeland, and charged with Grand Theft and Scheming to Defraud.