Ex-Fire Chief Avoids Prison After Embezzling $30K, Some Spent on Gambling

Posted on: July 10, 2024, 09:57h. 

Last updated on: July 10, 2024, 10:11h.

A former Malverne, New York fire chief was given probation this week for the theft of more than $30K in volunteer fire department funds. Much of the cash was spent on gambling at casinos.

Richard Bopp
Richard Bopp, pictured above, was given probation for embezzlement of fire department funds. Some of the cash was spent on gambling. (Image: Newsday)

On Tuesday, Richard Bopp, 45, pleaded guilty under a negotiated plea deal that also saw him resign from the fire department.

Bopp was given probation and, if he successfully completes five years of the sentence, he will avoid prison. Originally, Bopp faced a maximum of two to seven years in prison.

In addition, he reimbursed the fire department for the stolen money, according to Newsday.

“He knew he made a mistake,” Bopp’s lawyer, Scott Limmer, who practices law in Mineola, NY, told Newsday. “The only thing he wanted to do was make them whole because he knew he made a mistake.”

Visits to Las Vegas, Atlantic City

Among the stolen money were five checks Bopp wrote to himself and cashed. About $20K of those funds were withdrawn at ATMs. He used a debit card to withdraw about $5,000 from the department’s account while at Atlantic City and Las Vegas gaming properties.

Officials didn’t specify which casinos were visited.

The investigation revealed he had been gambling between July 1, 2021, and May 1, 2023, with departmental funds, officials told Newsday.

The embezzled money was revealed during an audit. Local officials contacted Nassau County police, who in turn informed the district attorney’s office about the wrongdoing.

Bopp, who was a decorated member of the fire department, had been both the department’s chief and then the treasurer between 2019 and 2021.

Multiple Charges

Bopp was arrested in February on charges of grand larceny, forgery, falsifying business records, corrupting the government, and official misconduct. He initially pleaded not guilty, but later agreed to the plea deal.

Officials considered it to be an important case.

The Malverne Fire Department depends on these resources to serve the surrounding community and respond in a crisis,” Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly said in a prior statement. “This defendant’s alleged actions siphoned precious funds away from that essential objective.”

Organized in 1911, the Malverne Fire Department is also known as the Norwood Hook, Ladder, and Hose Company.

Malverne is located on Long Island, some nine miles from John F. Kennedy International Airport.