Former Taylor Volunteer Fire Department chief accused of stealing more than $300,000

Williamson County

TAYLOR, Texas (KXAN) — A former chief of the Taylor Volunteer Fire Department is being charged after police say he stole more than $300,000 over five years and used it to pay off personal debts and expenses. This comes after more than a year of investigating.

Billy Dale Hughes Jr. turned himself in to the Williamson County Jail at 7:15 a.m. Thursday, the Taylor Police Department says. He’s being charged with first-degree felony theft of over $300,000.

Taylor Police and the Texas Rangers began investigating in October 2020. It was discovered that Hughes opened a joint bank account in the name of the TVFD right before being named chief. Police say Hughes then became the sole signatory authority on the account. Bank records revealed Hughes signed several official documents on behalf of the TVFD using his “chief” title.

Records went on to show Hughes withdrew checks totaling $173,200 from the account between 2016 and 2019. Police say the checks were made out to Hughes and then deposited into his personal account.

Between July 2019 and October 2020, police say bank records also showed $87,000 was directly transferred into Hughes’ personal account.

Hughes also charged a total of $50,583.26 in unauthorized purchases to the debit card associated with the account from May 2017 through October 2020, police say. The charges were made in and around the Celina, Texas, area for “illegitimate, personal expenses,” according to Taylor PD.

He also used funds from the account to pay off personal credit card debt. All of these unauthorized transfers, checks, debit card transactions and cash withdrawals came out to about $317,000, according to Taylor Police.

Hughes also allegedly trained members of the TVFD in a fire academy. Police say he allegedly faked applications to be reimbursed for firefighter training payments about 16 times between 2015 and 2020. Those applications were submitted to the Texas Forest Service and included training certificates, proof of payment, dates of training and documentation.

Police say at least six people came forward in written statements saying they had never attended the training and had never done training for Hughes.

Each application Hughes submitted to the Texas Forest Service had a copy of a check as proof of payment for training, but bank records show the checks were never negotiated, according to police. As a result, police say Hughes ended up collecting about $43,600 from the Texas Forest Service as reimbursement for funds that were never spent by the TVFD.

The investigation was enough for Taylor PD to obtain a probable cause warrant for Hughes’ arrest.

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