Its only been a week, but there’s been yet another case of theft in the volunteer fire service – this time in northwest New York state. Robert Kawski, president of the Chautauqua County Fireman’s Fraternity, has been charged with grand larceny and passing bad checks in regards to funds missing from the organization.
The Chautauqua case marks the 76th documented case of major theft in the volunteer service since 2006. To be clear, the 76 cases involve the theft of funds in excess of $10,000 from a volunteer fire department. It does not include 27 additional cases of the theft of smaller amounts, personal property, gasoline, or fire department equipment. It also does not include the numerous cases that go unreported because the department wants to avoid the negative publicity that accompanies such revelations.
A local news story about the theft discusses two other cases of theft that occurred in nearby volunteer fire departments over the past few years, one in 2008 and one earlier this year. The Chautaugua County Firemen’s Fraternity is a fundraising organization for area fire departments.