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Willmar man charged with stealing funds from local fire department

WILLMAR -- Three felony charges of theft by swindle have been filed against Chad Michael Johnson, 38, of Willmar, for allegedly taking $15,300 from the Willmar Fire Department for his personal use.

The charges were filed Thursday in Kandiyohi County District Court. Johnson's first court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 7.

According to the Fire Department website, Johnson retired from the department this year with 12 years of service.

According to the complaint, Fire Chief Marv Calvin notified Willmar police on June 30 that a recent audit of the fire department accounts had revealed several questionable transactions made by Johnson, who was the head treasurer for the department. Included in those transactions was money that appeared to have been taken by Johnson from the department's relief association and the firefighters association accounts.

Johnson was interviewed by a detective on July 1 and prior to beginning the interview, allegedly told the officer he had had financial difficulties, lost his job and had written some checks taking money from the department but had planned to pay the money back.

Johnson was interviewed again on Aug. 11 and reviewed with the detective a number of checks written from the Fire Department accounts to Johnson. Four checks were written from August to December 2008 for a total of $5,500. Three checks, for a total of $5,900, were written in February and March 2009. Three checks were written in February and April 2010 for a total of $3,900. Johnson allegedly admitted that each of these were not legitimate Fire Department expenses and that he had put the money into his personal checking account.

During the interview with the detective, Johnson said he had been attempting to pay back portions of the funds, but had not yet paid back all of it.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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