Retired Mich. fire chief allegedly stole $10K from fallen first responder fund
Ollice “Chuck” Hubbard, 59, is charged with one felony count of embezzlement of the Ann Arbor Police and Fire Benefit Fund
By Nathan Clark
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A retired fire chief tasked with managing a special fund for the families of fallen police officers and firefighters used the account to write himself a personal check for $10,109.78 in 2013, according to a police report obtained by the Ann Arbor News/MLive via the Freedom of Information Act.
Ollice “Chuck” Hubbard, 59, is charged with one felony count of embezzlement by an agent or trustee in the amount of $1,000 to $20,000 for allegedly stealing from a section of the Ann Arbor Police & Fire Benefit Fund. He waived a preliminary examination last month.
Hubbard’s attorney, John Shea, maintains that Hubbard was a devoted public servant who knew how to run a fire department, but was not a professional fund manager.
“Whatever actions he took with respect to the funds, they were not taken with any intent to defraud, and he has offered numerous times to turn over the funds,” Shea said.
The missing funds came to light when a new fund manager took over in summer 2018 — and discovering the accounts records consisted primarily of a box of unorganized documents — requested an accounting firm review and make sense of the account, according to the report from the Michigan State Police.
The accounting firm found a check written out to “cash” from Hubbard in May 2013, prompting the state police investigation.
The police report said the funds were then deposited in July 2013 into what appeared to be a personal checking account belonging to Hubbard. That account had no activity until the next month when a withdrawal of $5,000 was logged, the police report said.
There was no additional activity until March 2014 when the account started seeing regular deposits from the Ann Arbor Employee Retirement System, followed shortly after by regular withdrawals for what appeared to be personal expenses such as home improvements, cash and golf outings for himself.
The police report also indicates that the fund has been loosely managed over the years. Police interviewed previous fund administrators who described being tasked with managing the account as “inheriting a mishmash of documents” and receiving no formal training on how to handle the account.
The previous managers added that the account was low maintenance and there was no reason to withdraw money from it unless there was a payout to a participant’s family after the participant’s death.
Hubbard spoke with investigators, but his statements were redacted in the report released to the Ann Arbor News.
Hubbard is free on bond and is scheduled for his first pretrial hearing Oct. 24 before Washtenaw County Trial Court Judge Darlene O’Brien.
Embezzlement by an agent or trustee in the amount of $1,000 to $20,000 is punishable by up to five years in prison and fine of $10,000 or three times the amount embezzled, whichever is greater.
Hubbard joined the Ann Arbor Fire Department in 1985 as a firefighter and rose to the rank of chief in 2011 before retiring in 2014.
Hubbard told the Ann Arbor News previously his retirement decision was due to “limited support from key areas in both the fire department and the city.”
©2019 MLive.com, Walker, Mich.