Libertyville Volunteer Fire Department chief accused of stealing funds from department

Published 11:02 am Wednesday, January 24, 2024

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The fire chief of the Libertyville Volunteer Fire Department has been arrested and is accused of misappropriating department funds, according to the Covington County Sheriff’s Office.

Jared Ethan Watson

Jared Ethan Watson, who was serving as the Libertyville fire chief, was arrested on Jan. 23 and charged with first degree theft of property.

According to Sheriff Blake Turman, the volunteer department’s board of directors met on Dec. 16, 2023 and discussed “several discrepancies on their bank statement,” which prompted a deeper look into the department’s financial records. The board unanimously voted to turn their findings over the sheriff’s office to investigate a possible crime.

The fire department’s board president provided CCSO investigators with financial records and through a collaborative effort it was determined that Watson had misappropriated or stole funds on numerous occasions which led to his arrest , according to the sheriff’s office. The amount of funds allegedly stolen has not been disclosed.

Officials with the Libertyville Volunteer Fire Department said in a statement that Watson was “relieved of his position and removed from the department.” The department has named J. Brandon Holland as its new chief.

“Volunteer firefighters are vital assets to our community and bad decisions of one should not shade over the hard work and unselfishness of others,” Turman said. “If you get into financial distress, don’t turn to the criminal element to overcome it. I pray for the Watson family and the Libertyville community to move forward.”

Watson has been logged into the Covington County Jail with a $20,000 bond.