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Marengo firefighter quits after funds went missing

Published: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 1:58 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014 12:16 a.m. CDT

MARENGO – A Marengo Fire Rescue lieutenant resigned Tuesday after he was caught taking $6,700 from the volunteer fire department's nonprofit organization, according to multiple sources.

Lt. Russ Kahl took funds from the Marengo Fire Rescue Association in three separate incidents this month while serving as president of the nonprofit organization, said current president Scott Klaassens, who was named to the position Tuesday.

Kahl, who had been serving as association president for nearly two years, returned the $6,700 to the organization this week before resigning. The association notified Marengo police of the incident, although no charges have been filed.

"As a board, we decided at this time that he shouldn't be charged," Klaassens said. "It's not a closed case yet. It is still open, pending on what we discover in our audit."

Kahl was suspended from the fire department a week ago, after the association's treasurer, Klaassens said, noticed a number of withdrawals that didn't appear to be approved.

The association has policies in place to guard against unauthorized withdrawals. Going forward, the group will be conducting an audit to ensure no other money was taken.

The board also will examine ways to strengthen its financial policies, Klaassens said.

"I am very happy the money was returned in a timely manner," he said. "For us to go forward, we want to audit our books and set new policies and procedures in place, so this won't happen again."

The funds in question came from private sources within the association, fire officials said. No public funds were taken from Marengo Fire Rescue.

The fire rescue association is a nonprofit organization that primarily uses donations to buy supplies and materials – not covered by the state – for the volunteer firefighters at the department.

Marengo Police Chief Joseph Hallman said police were notified of the incident last week. He said his department can't investigate until a complaint is made, adding that Marengo Fire Rescue internally handled the matter.

"No one filed charges. No formal complaint was made," Hallman said. "We will investigate anything, but it didn't come to our door."

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