Former Mint Hill fire chief, Jeremy Russell, pleaded guilty to one account of embezzlement Tuesday in the Charlotte U.S. District Court. For nearly two years Russell stole $225,000 from the Mint Hill Volunteer Fire Department and the Town of Mint Hill by creating a sham business called Regional Medic & First Responder Supply Connection. Mint Hill invoices were sent to his fake company and bank account. The announcement from the U.S. Attorneys Office in Charlotte reads:
Russell generally kept the invoices to amounts under $5,000 and got the corresponding checks signed off by those at the Town and Fire Department with payment authority. According to the charging document, Russell picked up the checks at the mail drop and then deposited them into the bank account in Regional Medic’s name…According to the bill of information, Russell used the money to fund his personal lifestyle and a gambling habit.
The plea comes after a federal investigation of Russell’s actions. The Town of Mint Hill received a federal subpoena May 24 and has been cooperating with investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorneys Office involving Russell. The town took disciplinary action against him in April, and he resigned from his position as the Fire/EMS Operations Director.
The embezzlement charge has a maximum term of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Russell has agreed to pay restitution “to all victims directly or indirectly harmed by the defendant’s relevant conduct.”