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Investigation into more than $130,000 in expenditures
CRYSTAL BEACH-By: Leslie Rangel
The Galveston County Sheriff's Office has confirmed to KFDM News it's investigating expenditures in the Crystal Beach Volunteer Fire Department.
Information we have received, indicates the amount under investigation is more than $130,000.
The Sheriff's office has not charged anyone nor has it made an arrest.
Firefighters tell us more about what they say made them suspicious about the money and where it was going.
"There's no maintenance that's been done on this, no upkeep work," Battalion Chief Anthony Scalpo.
The Crystal Beach Volunteer Fire Department has struggled with funding for years.
Especially since Hurricane Ike hit in 2008.
What happened in November of 2012, raised financial red flags of a different sort.
"The matter came to light when several of our checks bounced or were sent back with insufficient funds," Scalpo says.
Sources within the department tell us money was being spent on equipment that was never seen.
For example, checks for this old running bar were written multiple times and as you can see it's still rusty and broken.
"The upkeep that should've been done hasn't, the equipment that should've been replaced wasn't and the repairs that should've been made were not," Scalpo said.
According to information provided to KFDM, the department spent about $45,000 on a rescue boat.
That boat isn't running.
It can't, without a motor.
It's been parked at the former chief's home, David Loop.
"It's very tough for us to come together as a group and to face the realities of what's going on," Scalpo said.
Last Thursday, Loop was suspended.
The department's board of directors elected a new chief.
"We do not hold that against him, we don't make any judgments until the court makes their final ruling, however, we have to take sufficient action that shows that we are going to be responsible with the tax dollars they entrust in us are being managed properly," Scalpo says.
"We have to rebuild our trust with the community and let them know that going forward, we will be forward with them and open so this doesn't happen again," Scalpo said.
A vow from a firefighter who says a department that rebuilt from Hurricane Ike, can certainly recover from this.
The sheriff's office is gathering evidence to turn over to the Galveston County District Attorney's office.