Thomas Cox, a former volunteer firefighter was found guilty of stealing funds from the Jacksboro Fire Department following a bench trial on Tuesday.
According to the Jacksboro Newspaper, District Judge Brock Smith rendered the verdict minutes after the prosecution completed delivering its evidence.
The fraudulent activity was discovered when Cox served as a secretary and treasurer for the Jacksboro Volunteer Police Department from June 2011 until December 2016
Assistant District Attorney Jay Lapham called five people to testify for the state.
The prosecution played a video showing an interview between Jacksboro Police Cheif Terry Mcdaniel and Cox in December 2016 after other Jacksboro Volunteer Police Department Officials began preparing the embezzlement.
Mcdaniel had a debit card that was linked to the fire department’s checking account in which he used to tick off vendors from a list of bank transactions. The transactions included several unauthorized ATM withdrawals $800 gun purchase, Direct TV, Oakley, multiple restaurants, and several electronic fund transfers from the fire department’s account to his personal account.
Cox claimed to have no memory of the
On the video, Cox claimed to not remember or have records of those transactions. For some, he said he accidentally grabbed the wrong card or he used the fire department’s debit card with the intention of paying it back.
“I guess I let this get away more than I thought I did,” Cox said at one point during the list of items McDaniel read.
“$66,000. You’re a fairly intelligent person Thomas so it’s hard for me to believe all the, I don’t remembers, I don’t remembers,” McDaniel said on the video.
Jackson, a former certified public accountant, testified as the state’s expert regarding the department’s investigation into the theft.
He said members of the department began to suspect possible fraudulent activity after noticing some inconsistencies. Some members produced a letter delivered to Cox prior to a department monthly meeting requiring Cox to provide a more detailed accounting and to surrender his financial records.
He did not show up to the meeting and the next day, Dec. 7, 2016, Jackson and Cpt. Jason Jennings went to the banks to remove Cox from the accounts and get statements. They then took them to City Manager Smith who called in the police chief.
Based on an examination of the fire department’s bank statements from April 2011 through Dec. 2016, approximately $66,000 of unauthorized transactions were discovered. The greatest amount was in the form of electronic fund transfers approximately $29,000.
The defense presented no evidence, but Cox’s attorney, Scott Osmon of Stephenville, objected to Jackson serving as an expert and the spreadsheet of transactions the fire department compiled from its bank statements with the unauthorized transactions noted. The defense contested the evidence presented as an accurate accounting of the amount stolen.
Smith found Cox guilty of theft greater than $30,000 less than $150,000, a second-degree felony, enhanced because of the JVFD’s mutual aid agreement through ordinance with the City of Jacksboro.
The punishment phase of the trial is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Friday, May 3 following a pre-sentencing investigation by the defense.
Judge Smith also declared Cox’s bond insufficient and set a new bond at $50,000.