The former president of the Remington Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department in Fauquier County admitted in court Tuesday that he stole more than $40,000 of the organization’s funds, often writing department checks to himself as reimbursement for things he did not buy.
Dressed in a teal polo shirt, William Joseph Stuart, 52, told a federal district court judge in Alexandria that he began stealing from the department toward the end of 2008, when he was laid off from his job as a credit manager at a car dealership. He pleaded guilty to a charge of theft from an organization receiving federal funds, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Stuart’s scheme, according to his plea agreement, was as simple as it was lucrative. Sometimes he would submit invoices requesting reimbursement for goods he claimed, falsely, to have bought for the department, and sometimes he would simply write checks to himself from the department’s accounts.
In total, according to his plea agreement, Stuart, of Bealeton, Va., stole more than $40,000 in 10 separate installments from September 2008 to April 2009. Stuart said in court that two fire department officials had to sign checks drawing on the organization’s coffers, but as the president, he could be one of them.
Stuart’s case is among a handful recently brought by federal prosecutors in Alexandria against allegedly corrupt volunteer fire officials accused of swiping their organization’s funds.
Last month, Jerry Keith Cromer Jr., 79, the longtime treasurer of the Aldie Volunteer Fire Department in Loudoun County, pleaded guilty to stealing more than $645,000 from his organization; he used it to pay off his mortgage and credit card bills and fix his car. He is scheduled to be sentenced in October.
And prosecutors said in court that Stuart is expected to be a witness in the December trial of Douglas G. “Bo” Taylor, 52, a former chief of the Remington Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department who is accused of a similar theft. Taylor, a licensed master electrician who worked in facilities services for Prince William County schools, also was accused of using his school-issued credit card to buy materials for fire department renovations, then requesting reimbursement for himself.
Stuart is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 15. He was allowed to remain out on bond until that date. He and his attorney declined to comment immediately after the hearing.