General Crime

* Rancho Adobe Fire Captain Michael Bechtold Arrested for Alleged of Embezzlement

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Rancho Adobe Fire Captain and Fire Marshal Michael Bechtold has been arrested on suspicion of embezzling $63,000 from the fire protection district’s Firefighter’s Association, a Sonoma County sheriff’s sergeant said today.  Bechtold, 39, of Rohnert Park, is being held in the Sonoma County jail under no bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Friday afternoon in Sonoma County Superior Court. The alleged embezzlement investigation began when the association’s board members asked Bechtold, the association’s treasurer, for financial reports, sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Raasch said. Bechtold delayed supplying the reports and missed several regular board  meetings, Raasch said.  When Bechtold supplied a report, it was obvious it had been tampered with and suspicious board members began an investigation, Raasch said.

Sheriff’s investigators learned $63,000 was missing — money firefighters pay to their association, Raasch said. Detectives learned Bechtold cashed forged association checks and spent the money on San Jose Sharks season tickets and a trip to Disneyland, Raasch said. Bechtold is on probation for a 2009 misdemeanor domestic violence violation, Raasch said. He checked in Wednesday for an appointment with the county probation department and was interviewed by detectives.  When he admitted taking the money he was arrested, Raasch said.  He was booked in jail for grand theft, embezzlement, forgery and violating probation.
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