Former Houston Mesa Fire Chief To Be Arraigned

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Former Houston Mesa Volunteer Fire Chief Frank Hansen faces an arraignment for fraud and theft charges May 29 in the Gila County Superior Court in Payson.

Patti Wortman, chief deputy county attorney, said Hansen faces charges brought by the Houston Mesa Fire District, including one count of fraudulent schemes and artifice and one count of theft.

Hansen could face a maximum penalty of 12.5 years for the fraud charge and 8.75 years for the theft charge, if convicted, she said. She didn't know when a possible trial would begin.

Hansen is accused of misappropriating general funds and pension funds from members of the Houston Mesa Fire Department during his four-year stint in the department and as its chief.

Houston Mesa Fire Board chair Sherry Weller said the fire district brought the charges against Hansen for allegedly misappropriating more than $18,000 of taxpayer and pension funds.

"I'm glad that the taxpayers do have their day in court and get a chance to get their money back," Weller said.

Hansen was appointed acting fire chief in January 1999. He maintained that position until December 2003 when he was placed on administrative leave, during an investigation by the fire board. He was then dismissed in January 2004 by the board.

Weller said she was relieved the debacle is finally being sorted out.

"We are moving forward," she said. "We'd like the community to participate so this doesn't happen again."

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