The former chief of a rural fire department has been charged with embezzlement of more than $170,000.

William Ray "Billy" Moore appeared in Delaware County District Court on Wednesday, May 16, on one felony count of embezzlement. 

Moore turned himself into authorities on Saturday, May 12, after the court issued a bench warrant for his arrest. He  has since been released on a $20,000 bond.

Nick Lelecus, assistant district attorney, said if convicted, Moore could face up to 10 years in prison in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, along with up to a fine not exceeding $10,000 and restitution.

Moore is set to next appear in court at 9:30 a.m., on Thursday, June 21, with an attorney, according to court records.

Attempts to contact Moore were unsuccessful as of press time. A number previously used to contact him has been disconnected and he has also deleted his Facebook account.

About the charges

According to the affidavit for arrest, filed by Delaware County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Gayle Wells, officials from the Hickory Grove Fire Department used Leah Wietholter, with Worman Forensic in Tulsa, to determine the extent of Moore's alleged embezzlement.

Wells wrote the forensic accounting of the department's funds indicated between Feb. 2, 2017 and Nov. 30, 2017, Moore charged - and paid for using unapproved department funds - $42,100 on an unauthorized Sam's Club MasterCard in his name.

The funds, Wells wrote were allegedly used to purchase personal items such as furniture, a television, sporting equipment and clothing.

Additionally, Wells said Wietholter's report indicated the total unpaid, unauthorized invoices, found within his belongings after he was terminated, amounted to $134,163.64.

Those invoices, when discovered and analyzed, were determined to be "unauthorized spending outside of William Moore's purchasing limits as defined by the fire department's bylaws" according to Wells' affidavit. 

In all, Wells said, department officials believe Moore embezzled at least $176,263.64 from the Hickory Grove Fire Department.

Relieved of duties

In December, Moore was relieved of his duties as the Hickory Grove Fire Chief, after allegations surfaced regarding the use of department funds.

He was terminated by a "unanimous decision" by the five-member board, consisting of board president Frankie Shepherd and members Tom Ponko, Mary Kriesch, Frank Holzkamper and Don Poteet.

In the release about the termination, the board stated Moore showed "total disregard for following the procedures and guidelines of the Hickory Grove Fire Department bylaws" and for his violation of "the Oklahoma State Statutes regarding purchasing."

At the time of his termination, Moore did not have an official comment. 

About the funds

In December, at least two of the purchases discovered made by Moore were with Master Medical Equipment, based in Jackson, Tennessee, and Chief Fire and Safety Company, based in Chickasha, and are among those being investigated by the board.

At that time, Erica Mauldin, Chief Financial Officer with MME, said had been trying to resolve an outstanding invoice with the Hickory Grove Fire Department since Moore purchased a defibrillator and other equipment amounting to more than $20,000.

Mauldin confirmed Moore returned the items in question at the end of September 2017, after she turned the issue over to the company's legal counsel.

At that time, email correspondence dated Sept. 28 between Mauldin, Moore and Shirley Hinman, the person tasked in the county clerk's office to monitor fire department purchases, indicated the department owed a balance of $3,824.13, as well as attorney fees.

In December, Richard Payne, sales manager for Chief Fire and Safety Company, said his company was awaiting payment on an invoice amounting to $14,760, which purchased eight sets of custom designed bunker gear for the department.

Payne said Moore issued a purchase order, number 592, in August 2017 to company representative Robert Spychalski, to purchase red/silver coats and pants.

Payne said he and Spychalski learned after the gear was delivered that Moore had given them a "fictitious purchase order" for the equipment.

At that time, Moore told the men the purchase order was an "in house purchase order" and the funds would be available through various sources - including the Cherokee Casino Grove - to cover the cost.

Payne said Spychalski became concerned about the issue after learning that no such funds were allocated for the purchase.

Payne said he never questions a purchase order number issued by a department. He said the bunker gear in question could not be returned for credit because it was custom ordered for Hickory Grove firefighters.

"If it was a fire hose or nozzle, we could take it back in a heartbeat," Payne said. "But we can't take back custom bunker gear."

On Nov. 9, County Clerk Barbara Barnes and Michaele Baker, county purchasing agent, issued a purchase order for the amount owed to Chief Fire and Safety.

More about Moore

This is not the first time Moore has faced allegations of misconduct.

In December 2008, Moore was arrested for allegedly pawning a Beretta .40-caliber pistol and a Glock .40-caliber pistol issued to him while he was a part-time Commerce police officer and the acting police chief for the city of Fairland.

In September 2009, Delaware County District Court records indicate Moore pled guilty/nolo contendere on one felony count of false declaration of ownership in a pawn. A second count was dropped by the prosecutors.

Also in 2009, Moore indicted and charged in the United States District Court - Northern Oklahoma for "uttering counterfeit obligations and securities."

The incident which led to the indictment, involved Moore's alleged passing of false bills in October 2008, at the Walmart in Vinita. 

At that time, Moore was serving as the acting police chief for the City of Fairland. He was fired from the department in November 2008, after he was caught on Wal-Mart surveillance video using four counterfeit $100 bills to renew a pre-paid credit card.

In July 27, 2009, Moore officially entered a guilty plea in front of U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan, for the single count of "Uttering Counterfeit Obligations and Securities."

At that time, Moore was given a one month sentence in the United States Bureau of Prisons, beginning at August 5, 2009. He was also placed on supervised release for three years and ordered to pay $400 restitution to Walmart.

According to documents filed in federal court, special conditions of Moore's three year supervised release included not being able to make an application "for any loan or enter into any credit arrangement" without consulting his probation officer.