Shelby Co., Ill. (ECWd) –
Herrick, IL firefighter Michael Garcia was arrested and charged with a class 3 felony August 14, 2023.
“That commencing on or about January 1, 2023, and continuing to or about October 14, 2023, in Shelby County, Illinois, the defendant, MICHAEL GARCIA, committed the offense of THEFT, in that the said defendant knowingly obtained control over property of Herrick Fire Department, being a debit card and used said debit card to obtain goods totaling in excess of $500.00, but less than $10,000 intending to deprive Herrick Fire Department permanently of said property; in violation of 720 ILCS 5/16-1(a)(A). (A Class 3 felony) ” (Charging sheet) (Note- The October month listed we believe should be August, the month he was arrested)
A review of the reports and statement from the Fire Chief indicate that Garcia used the department’s debit card to make ATM withdrawals and purchases including Heineken, Camel cigarettes, Marlboro cigarettes, Monster drink, and other numerous purchases at Walmart and Dollar General.
According to the Sheriff Deputies report: “While walking to my patrol car Michael stated he screwed up and stated he was wrong for using the card at Rise Recreational Dispensary”
We understand that the Rise Recreational Dispensary is where people can purchase marijuana, however, we do not know if that is what he purchased. Regardless, I am confident a marijuana dispensary does not sell anything that would be a qualified purchase for a Fire Protection District.
From a local government accountability standpoint, a few things jumped out at us. According to the Chief’s report, there were missing bank statements dating back to January of this year and it was not discovered until August. Notably, it was only discovered in August due to a discussion of consolidating bank accounts. The bank account tied to these activities is in Evansville, IN. This account was for donations and funeral memorials. While Fire Protection Districts receive donations, there is no provision to spend such funds on funeral memorials.
This is a perfect example of why there must be regular oversite of public funds by the trustees of the unit of government during their monthly meetings and a clear policy that ensures checks and balances that prevent this kind of theft.
We do appreciate once the misconduct was confirmed the Chief notified the board president and the police. That is what should happen more often with units of government.
A copy of the report and the Chief’s statement can be downloaded at this link or viewed below.police-report-chief-statement