Former Church Hill leader pleads guilty to theft from rescue squad, fireman’s association

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CHURCH HILL, Tenn. (WJHL) — A former Church Hill Rescue Squad and Hawkins County Volunteer Fireman’s Association (HCVFA) leader pleaded guilty Oct. 15 to two counts of theft that spanned across two agencies.

A release from the Tennessee’s Comptroller’s Office revealed Carla Dykes stole at least $47,073 from the Church Hill Rescue Squad between January 2013 and August 2020, stating the former treasurer used the agency’s debit card to make payments on the following:

  • personal mortgage
  • car payments
  • cable television
  • internet bills
  • personal meals
  • cigarettes
  • personal vacation accommodations
  • iTunes gift cards

Bank statements from the investigation show that the rescue squad’s debit card was used for Ford payments, menthol cigarettes and one charge totaling $444.56 on a vacation.

The investigation found that Dykes — who was also the HCVFA treasurer — transferred $32,808 total from the fireman’s association to offset her expenditures with the rescue squad’s funds.

HCVFA removed Dykes from the position in August 2020, and she was suspended by the Church Hill Rescue Squad following an internal investigation.

Dykes pleaded guilty to two counts of Class C Felony Theft of Property valued between $10,000-60,000. She was sentenced to six years on supervised probation and to pay restitution to both organizations.

“Both of these nonprofit organizations had similar weaknesses that failed to prevent theft or improper activity,” said Comptroller Jason Mumpower. “The former treasurer was given too much control over financial operations without adequate oversight; the organizations did not require two signatures on checks; and the rescue squad board and association did not require or retain documentation such as invoices or receipts.”

The agencies have since corrected their internal procedures involving funds, the release said.

For the complete investigative report, CLICK HERE.

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