Former Jones Co. Fire Council president arrested, accused of embezzlement

Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 10:04 PM CDT
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JONES COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - The former president of the Jones County Fire Council is accused of embezzling money from the organization.

Tuesday, Jones County Sheriff’s Department deputies arrested William Lee Garrick in connection with the crime. He was booked into the Jones County Jail around 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Garrick is also the former chief of the Calhoun Volunteer Fire Department.

We’re told members of the council and fire departments are devastated.

“We’re still trying to wrap our heads around the fact that this has happened,” said Dana Bumgardner, public information officer, JCFC. “It’s unconscionable to us and it has hurt us as individuals because, you know, he was trusted... It’s unthinkable that something like this could happen for funds that are just meant for the good of the community.”

Bumgardner says the organization now has to work on regaining the trust of the community.

“From here we are setting up different checks and balances and really just focusing on anything that we can do to build the trust back with the community,” Bumgardner said.

An exact amount of money embezzled has not yet been released.

“There’s still no concrete number,” said Jones County Sheriff Joe Berlin. “We’re still in the final phases of determining what was legit and what was not legit.”

However, we’re told deputies seized multiple items when executing a search warrant at Garrick’s personal residence Tuesday.

“Reloading supplies, maybe some ammunition casings, there was some ammo cans that may have had some reloaded ammo in it. Some books, some radios... just if you name it, we probably got it... some guns,” Sheriff Berlin said.

Berlin says although it’s a difficult situation, the law is the law.

“The sheriff’s department will prosecute anybody no matter how close they are to us,” Berlin said. “Lee was a very good friend of mine, but right is right and wrong is wrong. And I pray for his family, you know, this is a hard hit to his family.”

Garrick will have his initial appearance in Jones County Justice Court Tuesday.

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