Welcome Fire Department treasurer charged with embezzlement

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DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. -- Ginger Grubb, the Welcome Fire Department treasurer and wife of Davidson County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Brian Grubb, is charged with five counts of embezzlement.

District Attorney Garry Frank said that Grubb turned herself in after the indictment on Monday at about 2 p.m. and posted bond the same day.

She is charged with three class C felonies of embezzlement and two class H felonies for embezzlement, Frank said.

Court documents report Grubb “embezzled and fraudulently and knowingly misapply to and convert to her own use, take and make away with  United States Currency” from Welcome Fire Depart, Inc. accounts at Bank of North Carolina, NewBridge Bank and “extended by credit by Sam’s Club” from Jan. 1, 2011 to Dec. 31, 2015.

Frank said the Welcome Fire Department staff came to him with suspicion after Christmas in 2015 and he called upon the State Bureau of Investigation.

SBI Special Agent Scott Williams said the department is missing more than $350,000 over the past four years.

One example of money spent was purchasing hundreds of dollars of iTunes gift cards before Christmas.

“If there’s any use for iTunes gift cards for the purchase of the fire department, I would really like to know what that use would be, those are major red flags,” Williams said.

Sheriff Grice has known the Grubb family for about 30 years. Grubb’s husband is a chief deputy with the Davidson County sheriff office.

“He’s one of the most honest men that I’ve ever known I think he’s shocked also. You’re talking about a woman who’s a retired school teacher, that volunteered and was a member of the fire department so I don’t know what happened,” Grice said.

Maj. Grubb has not been placed on leave or suspension as the investigation of his wife continues.

Williams said there is no evidence at this point that he knew of his wife’s alleged embezzlement.

“No one told us that he knew and his actions over these years that this embezzlement was going on doesn’t tend to support that he knew but it’s still ongoing,” Williams said.

Frank said most local volunteer fire departments are treated like nonprofits in funding.

“The great bulk of them are nonprofit corporations run by a board of directors and they have an agreement they sign with the county to provide protection for a certain geographic area. They are spread throughout the counties and they actually get tax money given to them by the county commissioners based on their estimate of what it takes to provide the fire protection for their district during a particular year,” Frank said.

Assistant County Manager Casey Smith said the current annual budget for Welcome Fire Department for 2016 is $567,048. The budget is made possible by a fire tax of 11 cents per 100 of assessed property in the Welcome district.

Year-to-year, Smith said the budget rarely varies.

“To me adds a degree of seriousness to it when it’s public and particularly somewhat funded by the taxpayers who involuntarily fund it through a tax on their property. So it adds a different dimension of culpability to it,” Frank said.

The Welcome Fire Department had no comment on the case or Grubb’s involvement.

Grubb’s attorney Shawn Fraley said it would be too premature to make a comment at this time.