Spotsylvania volunteer chief guilty of misdemeanor embezzlement
BY PORTSIA SMITH / THE FREE LANCE–STAR
The former chief of the Spotsylvania Volunteer Rescue Squad who also worked as a 911 dispatcher with the county Sheriff’s Office pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of misdemeanor embezzlement Tuesday.
Leron T. Lewis, 28, was accused of falsifying county reimbursement forms for training classes and travel-related expenses, and charged with felony embezzlement.
That charge was reduced to a misdemeanor as part of a plea agreement filed in Spotsylvania Circuit Court.
According to the agreement, Lewis attended an emergency medical services training symposium in Norfolk in November 2013. The Sheriff’s Office provided him with a department credit card to use for meals and travel-related expenses during the five-day trip.
A total of $244 was charged to the Sheriff’s Office’s credit card, but the same amount was submitted by Lewis in a voucher for reimbursement from the volunteer rescue squad, the agreement said.
The duplicate payment was caught by county finance analyst Pamela Pross, which led to the investigation.
Lewis entered an Alford plea, which means that although he does not admit guilt, he acknowledges that there is enough evidence to convict him.
Defense attorney Mark Gardner argued that Lewis, who has no prior criminal history, has given thousands of hours of service to the community.
Prosecutor Bill Neely agreed, pointing out that Lewis has literally saved lives as a rescue squad volunteer.
“He brought this on himself,” Gardner said. “But he has suffered quite a bit.”
Gardner said that beyond the public shame, Lewis has also lost any chance of a career in law enforcement or service in the county.
Per the plea agreement, Lewis is barred from ever serving as an officer, career or volunteer, for the Spotsylvania County Fire and Rescue Emergency Services. He is barred from volunteering for the same department for a year.
He was also ordered to pay back the $244.
The plea agreement also calls for “deferred adjudication,” which means that the case will be reviewed in a year and if all conditions are met, the misdemeanor charge could be dismissed.
Judge Joseph J. Ellis told Lewis that he was at a loss to understand why Lewis acted as he did.
“When you have a position of public trust, and you definitely did, you are held to a higher standard,” he said. “You are going to see me in a year and you better be on your best behavior. You better not have even a seat belt violation.”
Lewis no longer works for the Sheriff’s Office. Kim Madison has been named acting chief of the Spotsylvania Volunteer Rescue Squad and has also filled Lewis’ seat on the county Fire and EMS Commission.
Lewis had been a member of the volunteer rescue squad since 2003. He is no longer listed on the squad’s website.
Portsia Smith: 540/374-5419