RACINE COUNTY -- A Mukwonago man, former chief of the Tichigan Volunteer Fire Department, is facing charges -- accused of misappropriating more than $20,000 in Fire Department funds -- using the money for personal gain.
46-year-old Todd Bluhm faces the following charges:
A criminal complaint filed in this case indicates it was back in June of 2014 when Racine County Sheriff's investigators were looking into allegations of long-term misappropriation of Town of Waterford funds by Bluhm -- who was the chief of the Tichigan Volunteer Fire Department.
It was reported by "several persons with access to financial (Fire Department) records" that Bluhm was using Fire Department funds for personal use.
In December 2014, a forensic audit was authorized. The audit began in January 2015, and was completed in May.
Tichigan Volunteer Fire Department
In early May, the complaint indicates an investigator met with the forensic auditor, and learned of an "extensive list" of fraudulent transactions made by Bluhm.
In July, Bluhm admitted to the following instances of misappropriation, according to the complaint:
The complaint indicates some of the money paid to Lois Tire Shop via Tichigan Volunteer Fire Department checks was for service/repairs for Bluhm's personal vehicle.
Additionally, the complaint indicates Bluhm is accused of using Tichigan Volunteer Fire Department money to purchase accessories for his personal vehicle, including:
These payments were made to PRV Upfitters via PayPal -- and the complaint indicates the payments were made with a Tichigan Volunteer Fire Department credit card.
Bluhm is accused of using Tichigan Volunteer Fire Department money to pay for personal cell phones, according to the complaint:
Bluhm is accused of using Tichigan Volunteer Fire Department money to make the following purchases from Emergency Medical Products -- purchases that were converted to personal use, according to the complaint:
The complaint indicates $455.08 was paid using a Tichigan Volunteer Fire Department debit card for hotel rooms in Michigan, booked via Hotels.com. Bluhm admitted this was a family vacation -- and not work-related, according to the complaint.
Bluhm is accused of making several purchases to fill personal vehicles with gasoline from January 2014 through October 2014 -- totaling more than $3,000.
The complaint makes reference to the following fraudulent reimbursement requests paid by the Tichigan Volunteer Fire Department:
The complaint indicates the following purchases were made by Bluhm from Somar Tek, LLC. using Tichigan Volunteer Fire Department funds:
The items purchased were converted to personal use by Bluhm, the complaint alleges.
Tichigan Volunteer Fire Department
The complaint accuses Bluhm of misappropriating a total of more than $20,000 from the Tichigan Volunteer Fire Department.
Bluhm will be in court on September 30th for his preliminary hearing. Meanwhile, his attorney has filed a motion to dismiss the charges in this case -- arguing gas, telephone calls, equipment and wear-and-tear to Bluhm's personal vehicle are all part of Bluhm's duties as the chief of a volunteer fire department.
David Wagner, the current chief of the Tichigan Volunteer Fire Department says no one is allowed to fuel up or purchase any equipment for their personal vehicles with department funds.
Wagner alleges Bluhm would sign his own authorization forms to make purchases when he was chief -- and says there are additional checks and balances in place now.
This isn't the first time Bluhm has found himself in the hot seat. In 2005, FOX6 News reported Bluhm was accused of stealing a Jack Daniels dartboard holder from the scene of a warehouse fire. At the time, he was deputy fire chief in Big Bend/Vernon.
Investigators believe he lied to authorities twice about the alleged theft.