CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Fayette County sheriff's deputy is charged with two counts of felony fraudulent schemes for allegedly embezzling more than $375,000 from the Oak Hill Volunteer Fire Department, said West Virginia State Police Sgt. J.L. Cahill.
Deputy Micha Feltner, 40, posted $50,000 bond after being arrested on the charges Monday, Cahill said.
In July 2009, Oak Hill officials changed the way volunteer firefighters were paid for their services, Cahill said. Previously, firefighters were paid in cash, and the treasurer of the fire department - Feltner - would withdraw a lump sum from the bank to pay the firefighters.
"The Oak Hill fire department actually pays its firemen $12 a call, which is perfectly legal," Cahill said.
When the firefighters started getting paid with checks in July 2009, city officials noticed that the amount of money they were paying out for fire calls dropped dramatically, said Oak Hill City Manager Bill Hanabass.
"That was a big tip-off," he said. "I wish we could say it was, but we didn't do it as a precaution or out of suspicion. We did it because it was better procedure. ... We noticed a trend following that."
In early January, Oak Hill city officials asked the State Police to investigate a possible fraudulent billing scheme, Cahill said.
The fire department's books were audited by three separate groups - the State Police, Oak Hill officials and a third, independent CPA firm - and all found at least $375,000 missing, Cahill said.