VEVAY, Ind. — Police arrested five people from Switzerland County Monday on numerous theft-related charges after a six-month Indiana State Police investigation into theft from the Patriot Volunteer Fire Department that allegedly included a secret meeting and filing fake state paperwork to take over department accounts.
State police said the investigation began in March, after they were notified that a group of people was attempting “to fraudulently gain control of the equipment and assets of the fire department,” which had closed in 2017.
Investigators said on March 16, 37-year-old Christopher See filed fraudulent paperwork with the state to take control of the fire department.
Then See, along with Christopher Miller, 32, Caitlyn Staat, 19, Jacob Parker, 35, and Lewis Fritter, 42, held a meeting without giving proper public notice and without telling the remaining members of the Patriot Volunteer Fire Department.
At the secret meeting, the five “elected” Miller as the new chief of the fire department. Parker was chosen as assistant chief and Staat was chosen to be the treasurer, all without following the existing by-laws of the PVFD , police said.
See, Miller, and Staat then allegedly contacted the First Financial Bank in Vevay, Indiana and used the fraudulent paperwork to put their names on the department’s accounts. Then, they gained access to the PVFD building containing the department’s equipment.
The five were arrested and charged Monday after investigators presented the case to the Switzerland County Prosecutor’s Office.
See was arrested on charges of conspiracy to defraud a financial institution, four counts of conspiracy to commit theft, seven courts of perjury and one count of official misconduct.
Miller, Staat, Parker and Fritter were charged with conspiracy to defraud a financial institution and four counts of conspiracy to commit theft.
All five suspects attended an initial hearing Monday in Switzerland County Circuit Court.