May 30, 2014. On May 8, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners directed the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the financial business and accounting practices of the Todd Volunteer Fire Department.
This request was in response to a query from an annual audit performed by Bryce Holder, CPA, PA for Watauga County. As part of the annual audit it was reported that requested audit information had not been provided by the Todd Volunteer Fire Department for the completion of said audit in a timely manner.
It was reported that the Watauga County Board of Commissioners had also received a written request from a “concerned citizen” asking for a formal investigation by law enforcement and that Watauga County withhold any allocation, or budget request for financial support for, or to, the Todd Volunteer Fire Department for Fiscal Year 2014-2015.
As part of the investigation, it was noted that the Todd Volunteer Fire Department is a nonprofit, governed by its board of directors.
The Todd Volunteer Fire Department Board of Directors, under North Carolina General Statute 153A, as well as North Carolina General Statute 132 (Public Records Statute), qualifies and classifies fire departments as a private entity.
Part of the initial investigation included a letter from Attorney Jak Reeves that verified this information. With that information, it was noted that any inquiries, or requests for any law enforcement investigations rest with, and are originated by the board of directors.
However, upon hearing of a request from the Watauga County Board of Commissioners to ask that the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office investigate alleged criminal activity, or financial misconduct, the Todd Volunteer Fire Department immediately contacted the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office to voluntarily and fully cooperate with the request regarding any allegations of criminal misconduct.
The Watauga County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Section contacted the State Bureau of Investigation to request assistance in conducting the inquiry into the financial proceedings of the Todd Volunteer Fire Department.
All necessary and requested information and documentation were received, processed, and thoroughly reviewed in concert with the office of Watauga County Manager Deron Geouque, the county’s finance department, and the county’s contracted auditor Bryce Holder, CPA, PA.
In addition, the North Carolina Department of Revenue and the United Stated Department of Internal Revenue were contacted and their assistance requested as a part of the inquiry and investigation.
Finally, the combined results and findings of the inquiry and of the investigation were discussed and presented to the District Attorney’s Office of the 24th Prosecutorial District.
Following the review by all appropriate federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, it is reported that the inquiry and investigation requested by the Watauga County Board of Commissioners has been completed.
It has been determined that no evidence was found of any alleged criminal activity, alleged criminal intent, or criminal misconduct, as a result of this intense investigation regarding the Todd Volunteer Fire Department, its board of directors, Todd VFD command officers, members, and any individual firefighter.