Former Buena Vista FD Treasurer pleads guilty to stealing funds

A Camden woman has pleaded guilty to theft charges related to her previous employment as Treasurer of the Buena Vista Fire Department.

Deborah Brown, 63, has been sentenced to 15 years probation after pleading guilty to charges of theft of property greater than $25,000.

She must also pay $106,608.07 in restitution to the Buena Vista FD at a rate of $300 per month.

Brown was arrested and released on a signature bond on May 24, 2022.

According to reporting by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, last April, an Arkansas Legislative Audit found $96,747 in improper disbursements at the Buena Vista FD in Ouachita County during its review of selected transactions between Jan. 1, 2016, and Aug. 31, 2021, Arkansas Legislative Audit senior auditor Jimmy Locke told lawmakers.

An Arkansas State Police report states in August of 2021, Brown was dismissed from her duties as treasurer.

The report states copies of the FD's 2016-2017 expenditure reports were submitted to the state and the legislative audit staff noted that dates appeared to have been altered on several invoices. The report states Brown appeared to have made the changes.

Further review found The FD's Generations Bank account had several improper transfers to Brown's personal bank account.

The report states $92,307 improper/undocumented payments were made to Brown as follows:

- $67,915 in checks made payable to cash allegedly endorsed by Brown;

- $19,100 in transfers to Brown's personal bank accounts;

- $3,792 in undocumented reimbursements to Brown;

- and a $1,500 payment to a vendor which had been endorsed by Brown.

There were $4,407 in other improper disbursements made as follows: $4,080 in payments to various individuals without documentation, and $360 in non-business disbursement for flowers, donations etc. that were in conflict with the "public purpose" doctrine. The Public Purpose Doctrine states public monies may only be spent for "public purposes."

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