According to officials, Jeffery Daugherty, 30, Brazil, was taken into custody at his residence and booked into the Clay County Justice Center on an arrest warrant issued for three counts of class D felony theft by Clay Superior Court Thursday afternoon.
Information provided by Clay County Sheriff's Department reported Posey Township Volunteer Fire Chief Larry Temple brought the case to light.
Apparently Daugherty had applied to become a volunteer firefighter with the department late last summer. As per protocols, a basic background check was performed and Daugherty was placed on a probationary period of nine months.
However, according to Temple, Daugherty had not completed any level of training, nor was he officially issued any equipment from the department.
Temple told The Brazil Times he was first made aware of an unidentified man posing as a firefighter in October. A couple of concerned citizens contacted Temple about a firefighter in a Posey fire coat allegedly attempting to scam local businesses out of merchandise by using discarded receipts to claim merchandise he didn't purchase.
Other reports of scams included a firefighter going into local stores and asking for purchases he supposedly made the day before, but left behind due to an emergency fire call.
Although Temple attempted to investigate the reports on his own, privacy issues and corporate policies made it difficult for him to identify whom the person was.
Meanwhile, on Oct. 28, Clay Superior Court issued a summons for Daugherty to appear in court at 9 a.m., Dec. 20, regarding the filing of a class A misdemeanor charge for conversion filed because of a separate investigation by Brazil City Police.
Conversion, what could be considered a fancy form of shoplifting, is defined as knowingly and unlawfully possessing another person or business's property by deception.
During the CCSD investigation, investigators confirmed Friday that allegations of other similar incidents have come to light in Vigo County, including a potential car theft from a dealership in Hendricks County.
Apparently Daugherty left his car and took a car for a test drive, without returning it. Officials confirmed to The Brazil Times the missing vehicle was reportedly taken to an undisclosed location in Chicago and returned to Brazil.
According to Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton, any charges from that investigation are the responsibility of Hendrix County officials. Further information is unavailable about the ongoing investigation, but Heaton did talk about the affect scams have on the public trust.
"It's disheartening that anyone would use a position of trust to defraud people," Heaton said. "The fire department is also a victim in this case. Something like this creates a black eye for volunteers and violates the public's trust."
On Friday, Daugherty appeared by video conference before Superior Court Judge Blaine Akers to enter a not guilty plea in both cases. He was assigned attorney Matthew Effner as his public defender and tentatively scheduled for jury trials on both matters March 28, 2011.
Bonds were set at $7,000 cash (with 10 percent allowed) on the new charges and $5,000 cash (with no 10 percent allowed) for the October allegations. However, the bonds are to be paid consecutively before Daughtery can be released.
Officials confirmed Daugherty remains incarcerated at the Clay County Justice Center while awaiting formal court proceedings.