Firefighter Charged with Embezzlement Accused of Stealing Money Raised for Charity

By Steph Machado

Published 04/10 2014 06:34PM

Updated 04/10 2014 09:42PM

BARRE CITY, Vt. - Money stolen from the Barre City Firefighters' Union was earmarked for charity, according to union president and Fire Captain Matthew Cetin.

34-year-old Jeffrey Cochran is accused of embezzling from the IAFF Local 881 union. He was the president of the union at the time, and has since resigned his post as a Lieutenant for the Barre City Fire Department.

Cetin says until recently, the union had no one checking its bank account.

"We put a lot of trust into people in positions," he said. In January, the union elected a new secretary treasurer, who did an audit and found nearly $5,000 was stolen over the past year.

"During the course of this alleged crime, there was no person in that position to maintain the books," said Cetin.

Cetin says the union held a coin drop where community members donated money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. That's part of the money that went missing. The firefighters donated money out of their own pockets to give $1,300 to the MDA.

Cochran was a 10-year veteran of the Fire Department, and has served in the past as a part-time police officer for the Caledonia County Sheriff's Department and the Berlin Police Department.

"The public trusts us to do the right thing, and the public holds us to a higher standard and that's the standard I hold my officers to as well," said Berlin Police Chief William Wolfe.

During the time the suspected embezzlement took place, Chief Wolfe says Cochran used a bank check to buy a decommissioned police cruiser.

In Barre, firefighters are changing how they operate.

"We now have checks and balances, so hopefully this will never happen again," said Cetin.

FOX44 & ABC22 News was unable to reach Cochran for comment by phone or at his home in Barre. He will be arraigned in Washington County Court on April 24th on charges of Felony Embezzlement.

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