Fraud suspected in Wagener Fire Dept. closing
By Robert White
Fraudulent checks may have been written on Wagener Fire Department bank accounts.
Wagener Mayor Mike Miller and the Town Council have closed the fire department and its bank accounts. They also released its officers and volunteers,
Mayor Miller provided the Lexington County Chronicle and the Fish Wrapper documents and pictures of checks ending #5994 and #5549.
A police report from another breach in 2019 shows 7 offenses, 6 suspects and the amount of cash taken as $19,191.60.
A 1% fire department account was also identified.
This account is specifically set up for tax money collected by Aiken County to go directly to the fire department for equipment and other materials.
This account was suspended temporarily but is now open under town council control.
This account is audited by the Firemen's Association.
The town has closed accounts 5994 and 5549.
2 incidents dating back to March 2020 involve LED lighting for the fire truck bays.
These were approved by Council and Mayor along with fire hoses to be replaced.
After a test of 1 length of hose failed, the town bought new hoses.
Not all hoses failed the test, according to Mayor Miller. "It's unusual for all fire hoses to fail at the same time" he said.
Another Fire Department checking account with Local Option Tax money is now controlled by Aiken County.
Mayor Miller said the money goes to local needs determined by the council.
In the past, Council has paid off one fire truck and bought a ladder truck and police department vehicle equipment.
After another 2020 breach in the main fire department bank account, the town closed it due to suspected fraudulent checks.
Mayor Mike Miller said, "Measures have been put in place to protect all funds within the town and Fire Department accounts."