Agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in Athens arrested former Arnoldsville Volunteer Fire Chief Albert “Joe” Siegert, 33, Athens.
Siegert was arrested Monday and charged with three felony counts of theft by conversion, one for taking in excess of $39,000 of federal grant funds awarded to the Arnoldsville Fire Department, one for taking in excess of $10,000 of federal grant funds awarded to the fire department and one for taking in excess of $3,000 from the Arnoldsville Fire Department account. All the charges are for official government funds that were converted for personal use.
The GBI Athens Office was requested by Oglethorpe County Sheriff Mike Smith earlier this month to look into allegations of missing grant funds from the Arnoldsville Fire Department. The investigation revealed the fire department received a grant for fire personnel turn-out gear for approximately $39,000 in July 2007. The turn-out gear was ordered and received but never paid for. Another federal grant was received in January 2008 for $251,000 for a new fire truck. The truck was purchased the following month for approximately $240,000 but the difference was not used for the fire department.
Siegert had been with the Arnoldsville Fire Department from September 2006 to May 2008. He was named chief in January 2007.