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The original item was published from 11/18/2021 4:26:10 PM to 12/21/2021 9:09:43 AM.

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Posted on: November 18, 2021

[ARCHIVED] FORMER VOLUNTEER FIRE CHIEF CHARGED WITH FELONY THEFT

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Billy Dale Hughes Jr., former Chief of the Taylor Volunteer Fire Department (TVFD) (now Avery-Pickett Fire Department) has turned himself in on a charge of first-degree felony Theft Over $300,000, after a joint investigation involving the Taylor Police Department and the Texas Rangers. The TVFD has no affiliation with the City of Taylor and is not to be confused with the City of Taylor Fire Department. The joint investigation, which began in October of 2020, revealed that Hughes Jr. opened a joint bank account in the name of the TVFD shortly before being named Chief of the Department. After being named Chief in 2015, Hughes Jr. then became the sole signatory authority on the account, with no other members of the department having access. Bank records revealed Hughes Jr. signed numerous official documents on behalf of the TVFD, using the title of “Chief.” Hughes’ records revealed cash withdrawals of $56,900 between August of 2014 and October of 2020. Further records show that Hughes Jr. also withdrew by checks totaling $173,200 from the account between 2016 and 2019. The checks were made out to Hughes Jr. and deposited into his personal account. Bank records also show that $87,000 was directly transferred into Hughes Jr’s personal account between July of 2019 and October of 2020. Hughes, Jr. also utilized a debit card associated with the account from May of 2017 through October of 2020 for unauthorized purchases totaling $50,583.26 in and around the Celina, Texas area for illegitimate, personal expenses. Hughes Jr. used funds from the account to pay off personal credit card debt as well. The total amount of unauthorized transfers, checks, debit card transactions, and cash withdrawals discovered was approximately $317,000.00.

In addition, Hughes Jr. trained purported members of TVFD in a fire academy. Records from the Texas Forest Service revealed Hughes Jr. submitted applications for training reimbursement on approximately 16 occasions between 2015 and 2020. The applications included training certificates, proof of payment, dates of training, and documentation including the Texas Taxpayer Number for TVFD. The applications were signed by Hughes Jr. Written statements were obtained from six people that stated they either never attended the training or never completed the training for which Hughes Jr. submitted the applications. In each application for TVFD personnel, Hughes Jr. included a copy of a check as proof of payment for the training. Bank records revealed that the checks used as proof of payment were never negotiated. As a result, Hughes Jr. received approximately $43,600.00 in funds from Texas Forest Service as reimbursement for funds that were never expended by TVFD. The joint investigation resulted in a probable cause warrant for the arrest of Hughes Jr. Hughes Jr. turned himself in at the Williamson County Jail at 7:15 this morning.

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