More than three years after the Killeen Police Department launched an investigation into the abuse of an association credit card by a local firefighter, an arrest has been made.
Robert Arredondo, who was the acting secretary of the Killeen Professional Fire Fighters’ Association at the time he was allegedly using the credit card, was arraigned Thursday on a charge of misappropriation of funds, more than $1,500 but less than $20,000.
The credit card belonged to the Killeen Professional Fire Fighters’ Association, an organization that local firefighters pay dues to. In turn, the association represents Killeen firefighters at public meetings and elsewhere.
According to an interoffice memorandum sent from Amanda Wallace, the former Killeen city auditor, to Kenneth Hawthorne, the city’s former interim fire chief, Arredondo’s procurement card activity was reviewed between January 2008 and April 2014.
During that review, it was found that Arredondo accidentally used the p-card on 15 occasions. Each time, he reimbursed the city or returned the merchandise for credit back to the city’s card.
However, Wallace determined there was “some intent to misuse the p-card,” according to that memorandum.
There were at least two documented instances in which the sales tax was not applied to the charge, she said.
“The fact that sales tax was not charged on these two transactions demonstrates a very deliberate act to use the city p-card rather than a personal form of payment,” Wallace said in the city document.
The Herald received the city documents after filing an open-records request that was initially denied by Killeen city officials, but later overturned by the Texas Attorney General’s office.
Among the unauthorized purchases made, Arredondo used about $3,000 to pay for a Sprint Cellular account under his name from April 2010 to May 2012, according to the affidavit.
He also used about $1,200 of unauthorized association funds at Best Buy from 2011 to 2012, and $391 at Killeen Power Sports, according to the affidavit.
The p-card administrator took note of the inappropriate activity in March 2014, and told a supervisor. From then, Arredondo’s card was deactivated, Wallace said. The city auditor was never notified, however, and there was no disciplinary action taken.
In Wallace’s memo to Hawthorne, she recommended that the fire department consult human resources to determine the best discipline for Arredondo. She also recommended that the administrator keep a log of accidental purchases to keep an eye on any patterns, and notify the city auditor immediately after learning about possible acts of fraud.
On Feb. 7, the Herald requested that the city return a list of any thefts reported by the internal auditor from 2015 to 2017. The alleged misuse of a P-card was reported Nov. 18, 2015, and according to the records, the allegation was substantiated and corrective action was taken. That was the only incident out of four in which the allegation could be substantiated.
On Feb. 28, the Herald requested the incident report. Linda Pemberton, the paralegal for the city, denied that request March 8.
In a letter to the Herald dated March 30, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office ruled that the information be turned over.
“You state the information is maintained in the city’s police department’s internal personnel files under section 143.089(g),” Claire V. Morris Sloan, assistant attorney general, said in the letter. “However, you inform us the information is also maintained in the city’s internal auditor’s files. The city may not engraft the confidentiality afforded to records under section 143.089(g) to records that exist independently of the internal files. Thus, the submitted information ... is not confidential.”
Marc Clifford, president of the Killeen Professional Fire Fighters Association, issued a statement about 2 p.m. Friday.
“The KPFFA would like to make it clear that this theft did not involve any public funds, but rather this was a case of a firefighter stealing from fellow firefighters,” he said. “The officer in question was a previous board member, and is suspected of stealing dues money for personal gain.”