SHOWELL — A former Showell Volunteer Fire Company firefighter and treasurer last week was charged with theft after a years-long investigation revealed he had used the fire company’s bank account to make personal transactions over a three-year period dating back to 2009.
In 2013, the Worcester County Bureau of Investigations (WCBI) began investigating a theft from the Showell Volunteer Fire Company. During the investigation, it was learned Mark Widgeon, 53, of Snow Hill, had allegedly used the fire company’s bank accounts to make multiple personal transactions.
At the time of the alleged thefts, Widgeon was a volunteer firefighter and treasurer of the Showell Volunteer Fire Company. With the assistance of a forensic auditor, WCBI detectives learned that from 2009 to 2012, Widgeon, while in the position of treasurer, allegedly made multiple purchases using Showell Volunteer Fire Company bank accounts totaling several thousands of dollars.
After a lengthy audit of all of the bank accounts associated with the Showell Volunteer Fire Company, WCBI detectives, in conjunction with the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office, applied for charges of felony theft scheme against Widgeon. A District Court Commissioner then issued an arrest warrant for Widgeon and he was taken into custody last Saturday around 8 a.m.
Widgeon was held initially on a $50,000 unsecured bond. He had a bond review hearing on Monday and was released on a $50,000 unsecured bond. An initial hearing has been set for April 6 with a tentative trial date laid in for May 4.
Meanwhile, while it appears the theft scheme was carried out by Widgeon alone and there is no indication of any malfeasance at all by the Showell Volunteer Fire Company, the department issued a contrite statement on Tuesday essentially apologizing to the community for the incident.
“The members of the Showell Volunteer Fire Department would like to apologize for the recent situation involving a former member and the department,” the statement reads. “The actions of one individual have caused much damage to the department, its reputation and community.”
The fire company’s statement goes on to say once Widgeon’s theft scheme was identified, the department immediately contacted the authorities and cooperated fully with the investigation.
“This has been isolated and when discovered the department immediately reached out to the police and the State’s Attorney’s office for assistance and guidance,” the statement reads. “We have cooperated fully and at no time has your fire and EMS service been effected and will continue with no interruption.”
The statement asserts the discovery of the alleged theft scheme has caused the department to review and tighten its bookkeeping policies to assured the community similar incidents would not happen in the future.
“During their investigation, the department has developed many new protocols for us to follow, which were implemented to assure better accounting to prevent this from happening again,” the statement reads. “As most of you know, we are your friends, neighbors and family and we volunteer to serve you and the community. Again, we hope you will accept our most sincere apologies and give us the opportunity to make this right.”