Sarasota, Florida - The treasurer for the Sarasota Firefighters Benevolent Fund was arrested on Friday and charged with embezzling from the organization.
Thomas Rhoades, who is also a firefighter for Sarasota County, has been charged with one count of felony Scheme to Defraud and one count of Grand Theft in excess of $100,000.
"That responsibility and that trust was betrayed," said board secretary Cheryl Douma.
According to a report from the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, the 43 year-old took over the job in December 2010 and months later started to rob them blind.
"There was a feeling of disbelief and we're still processing it," said Douma.
Monies in the organization's four accounts at Well's Fargo are raised through contributions from the estimated 500 firefighters in Sarasota County and through fundraisers held throughout the year.
The funds are used to help families of firefighters and even struggling families in the general public during the holidays.
The reported theft was discovered when Rhoades was approached by the organization to gather money for two firefighters.
"We have a firefighter whose child is terminally ill and another firefighter who's been racking up a lot of medical expenses through his own illness," said Douma. "We went to write checks for them as promised- the monies just weren't there."
Before being arrested, an investigator estimated Rhoades made off with more than $220,000 between February 2011 and September 2013.