Former South King Fire and Rescue CFO accused of defrauding district

Grant Gaspard, former South King Fire and Rescue assistant chief and Chief Financial Officer, was arrested Aug. 7 by the FBI on charges of defrauding the district.

Gaspard, a 27-year veteran of SKFR, allegedly used a district-issued credit card, and possibly other means, to fraudulently purchase $500,000 worth of goods over several years. The items were never received by the fire district, according to a U.S. Attorney's Office release.

An FBI affidavit charges that Gaspard partook in three counts of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud, according to the release. The former assistant chief allegedly used fictional invoices, purchase orders and a private mailbox to order and obtain items.

Goods such as photographic equipment, including a camera lens priced at $8,499, a high-definition television, Blu-Ray player, Apple computers, night vision scopes and firearm equipment, such as rifle scopes and laser sights, were fraudulently purchased by Gaspard, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office release. The district paid approximately $267,000 between June 2007 and February 2008 for goods and services that were never received, according to the release.

"We feel very bad about this and very sorry about the fire district being cast in a bad light," SKFR Chief Al Church said.

Gaspard's actions were first brought to the attention of Church and the district by a SKFR employee on July 14, Church said. The employee noticed unusual transactions in connection with Gaspard and reported those to Church. Gaspard was immediately put on administrative leave the same day. He resigned from his position with the district on July 31.

Church said he had no suspicions that the fraud was taking place and felt betrayed by Gaspard's actions. Gaspard was employed in a position of trust and took advantage of that, he said.

"We are going to overcome this," Church said.

The fire district is pursuing full restitution for the illegal activity, he said. Gaspard is currently being held without bail at the Federal Detention Center in Seatac. He will appear in court at 2 p.m. Aug. 12 where a judge will determine if he shall be release pending a trial.

Gaspard could face up to 20 years and $250,000 in fines for each count of mail and wire fraud, if found guilty. The case is still under investigation by the FBI.

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