By Andrew Soergel
A Glasgow woman pleaded guilty to three charges of embezzlement after withdrawing more than $10,000 from the Glasgow Life Saving and First Aid Crew’s Auxiliary Account.
Tamara Preston, 50, stood before Judge Michael S. Irvine in Rockbridge Circuit Court on Monday afternoon for a preliminary hearing. Preston is accused of using her position as a Glasgow rescue crew executive to gain access to a debit card, connected to the group’s bank account, over a 17-month period.
“She had gone to local ATMs in Staunton to withdraw the money,” said Sgt. Aaron Britton of Glasgow’s police department.
He was the prosecution’s sole witness during the hearing. Britton is a family friend of Preston’s. On Nov. 7, Britton met with Preston near the Glasgow rescue station. Preston told him she had embezzled public funds.
“She said she had taken some money from the Glasgow auxiliary,” he said.
Britton advised her to stay quiet until formal investigations could take place. He met with her the next day to start going over the money.
“She stated during our interview [on Nov. 8] that, to her knowledge, she’d only taken $6,000,” he said.
After breaking down some of Preston’s illegal purchases, Britton acknowledged that the actual amount of embezzled funds could exceed $10,000.
Britton said in court Monday that he was shocked at Preston’s involvement. But, he said, she has been cooperative with the Glasgow Police Department’s investigation.
The discrepancy in the auxiliary’s checking account was discovered on Nov. 6, and the account was immediately frozen. Preston confessed to stealing the money at a rescue squad meeting later that day, said Larry Mayo, president of the Glasgow Life Saving and First Aid Crew, in a press release.
“The funds that were involved were only in the Glasgow Life Saving and First Aid Crew Inc. Auxiliary account,” he said. “No funds received from the town of Glasgow, Rockbridge County, fund drives or memorial donations were involved.”
“The services [the auxiliary account provides the rescue squad] are invaluable to us,” said Mayo. “We are going forward as a more unified organization with financial safeguards in place to ensure that a situation like this does not happen again.”
Before releasing Preston from police custody, Judge Irvine gave her a warning.. “I’ll just give you a heads up,” he said. “This money needs to be repaid.”
Preston will go before Judge Irvine for sentencing on June 3 at 9:30 a.m., in the Rockbridge County courthouse in downtown Lexington.