Long-time firefighter accused of stealing $300,000 from fire company

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A volunteer fire department is out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. (WPVI)

A volunteer fire department is out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and police say it's an inside job.

Hower Smith III has been with the Westwood Fire Company in Chester County 40 years. He now faces several felony charges including theft.

Only Action News was there when Smith turned himself in. Dressed casually in a jacket and wearing a pair of shades, Smith walked into the District Justice Office in Coatesville Wednesday afternoon where he was arraigned on theft and forgery charges.

The 57-year-old is accused of stealing more than $300,000 from the Westwood Fire Company over a five year period.

Prosecutors say it all came to light in 2012 while Smith he was on vacation in Hawaii. They say Smith paid for the trip with the fire company's credit card.

And that's not all.

According to the Chester County District Attorney, Smith purchased Phillies season tickets, expensive meals, clothes, even rented cars with the stolen money.

Officials say it is the ultimate betrayal of trust and really hurts the volunteer firefighters who risk their lives to serve their community.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Noone says, "This is a difficult situation for the fire company because they rely on fundraising - they are a volunteer organization. This repeated theft by someone they trust put them in difficult position."

Although the fire company is out of a significant amount of money, services provided by Westwood Fire are not affected.

Also, it appears some generous donors have stepped in to help.

Meanwhile, Smith is free on bond. His preliminary hearing before a judge is set for October 21.
Related Topics:
theftpa. newsembezzlement
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