SPEEDWAY, Ind. (July 10, 2015) – Speedway’s former fire chief is accused of misusing tens of thousands of dollars, according to an audit released Friday by the Indiana State Board of Accounts.
Mark Watson resigned as chief of the Speedway Fire Department in October 2014, with no explanation.
The audit found Watson misused more than $62,000 in funds from the department and the Town of Speedway dating back to 2011.
The money was used for personal expenses, including car payments, credit card payments, a gun, a TV, a grill, two sets of tires and other expenses. Some of the money had been deposited in an account Watson set up ostensibly for the fire department’s use. The personal checking/savings account was not authorized by the town. Other expenses went on Speedway credit cards, the audit said.
Other irregularities included about $4,500 paid for work by a company called “Fireprof.” The business didn’t exist and Watson owned the post office box where the check was sent. Investigators recovered the uncashed check from Watson following his departure.
The audit also found evidence of a missing computer (a Microsoft Surface Pro 3) that was purchased with other electronics. The device, worth more than $1,100, has not been recovered, the audit said.
Watson collected more than $3,100 in testing fees from candidates seeking to join the department. That money was never turned over to the town. Watson also spent more money than he was allotted in his clothing allowance, the audit found.
The irregular purchases were first discovered on Oct. 17, 2014. On Oct. 27, Speedway officials confronted Watson about the money. He told them he’d used town funds for personal expenses. He was informed the process would begin for his termination; Watson requested that he be allowed to resign. Speedway officials granted the request so he would no longer have access to town facilities and records.
The town released a statement about the audit:
While we are shocked and dismayed by the totality of Mark Watson’s alleged actions, it is reassuring to know that internal financial oversight led to the exposure of these alleged actions, and immediate action was taken to prevent any further misuse of Town funds. These allegations are in no way a reflection on the men and women of the Speedway Fire Department or the employees of the Town of Speedway.
The special investigation into Watson’s activities cost more than $21,000.
The State Boards of Accounts turned the results of the audit over to the Office of the Indiana Attorney General and the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office for criminal charges.
We reached out to Watson, but our request for comment hasn't been returned.