Top Iola Fire Officials Charged With Embezzlement

By: KBTX Staff Email
By: KBTX Staff Email

Three members of the Iola Volunteer Fire Department, including the now-former fire chief, have been arrested or are about to be arrested after a January review by the Grimes County Auditor's Office revealed numerous discrepancies.

Deputies with the Grimes County Sheriff's Office say auditors discovered some of the department's funds were used to purchase personal items.

In the days that followed the internal audit, sheriff's investigators along with the Texas Rangers began to look into the alleged misappropriation of funds. During the investigation, authorities say they discovered three members of the Iola Volunteer Fire Department -- Chief Earl Sword, along with the department's accountant, Wanda Sword (who is also the chief's mother), and the department's secretary, Samantha Kimich (who is also related to the former fire chief) -- had used the money for personal gain.

Sword has resigned as chief as a result. He had been in the position for about four years.

Arrests records indicate that collectively, the trio is accused of embezzling nearly $40,000 of department money. County officials say the investigation goes back at least two years.

Grimes County Sheriff Don Sowell says the Swords and Kimich were due to report to the sheriff's office Tuesday evening, each to be charged with Theft by a Public Servant, a second degree felony.

Sowell says the investigation remains open and additional arrests could still be made, and that all three have confessed to the embezzlement.

Purchases at a variety of stores -- Michaels, Card and Party Factory, Academy Sports and Outdoors, Sam's Club and Hobby Lobby, among others -- were made using IVFD checks, according to the probable cause statements. Earl Sword, in his admission, said he had intended to pay back the money, but never did.

All three suspects have bonded out of jail.

Tuesday night, an emergency meeting of the Iola Fire Department was held at the fire station, where they elected new officers.

Lucas Mosley was elected as the new fire chief and Michael Kimich was chosen as the assistant fire chief.

Michael Kimich is the husband of one of the arrested, Samantha Kimich. Michael is currently serving a five year probation sentence as punishment for four counts of cattle theft.

It was back in 2009 that Kimich was indicted for theft of livestock from three Grimes County ranchers. The investigation revealed Kimich had stolen at least 8 head of cattle between July 2008 and December 2008, on at least four separate occasions.

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