BREAKING: Bond conditions changed on Ozona Fire Chief, Secretary/Treasurer

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Changes have been made on the bond conditions for Ozona Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Brian Morrow and Secretary/Treasurer Georganna Lynn Morrow.  

During a court hearing Wednesday, Dec. 18, 112th District Judge Pete Gomez ruled that Brian Morrow and Georgia Morrow must surrender all financial documents in their possession, including bank statements, credit cards and debit cards. Gomez also suggested that an audit be conducted by a certified account.

All financial statements and cards were ordered to be turned over to Fire Department President Ryan Mason.

Gomez also ruled that due to Georganna Morrow being in a position dealing with financial matters, she cannot have any contact with the volunteer fire department and cannot come onto fire department property.

Brian Morrow is allowed to continue as fire chief for the department, but he cannot make any expenditures or sign any financial documents on behalf of the department, Gomez stated.

Brian Morrow and Georganna Morrow were indicted by a Crockett County Grand Jury on Nov. 25 for theft of a nonprofit.

After the indictment, 112th District Attorney Laurie English had filed a motion asking for the following bond conditions that both individuals are not allowed on fire department property, they shall not operate any equipment or vehicle belonging to the fire department and they shall surrender all fire department financial documents their possession, including credit cards, debit cards and checkbooks.

Prior to Wednesday’s hearing, Gomez had only granted one that stated both individuals have to report once a month to the Crockett County Supervision Department as determined by the supervision officer and pay a $30 monthly fee at the time of reporting.

English said the indictments question the funds in the fire department’s donation accounts, not the account where they receive funding from Crockett County. Donations to the department come from grants, companies and local citizens.

“This request by the state to put additional bond conditions is unacceptable. The fire department is an independent nonprofit organization. No one has come forward saying they have been a victim,” said J.W. Johnson, attorney for Brian Morrow and Georganna Morrow.

Johnson presented in court a petition signed by 18 members of the Ozona Volunteer Fire Department that stated allegations against the Morrows are false, that they are still members of the department in good standing and that they are allowed to continue in their positions.

“They can’t do that if they are restricted on fire department property,” Johnson said.

Brian Morrow and Georganna Morrow are not paid for their positions at the volunteer fire department. The department only has one full-time paid position, station attendant, and that position is paid for by Crockett County. The county also pays for a part-time, relief, station attendant position.

County Attorney Jody Upham testified during the hearing that the interlocal agreement between the county and the fire department states the county will provide funding for equipment and a station, while the department will provide the volunteer personnel.

The fire department is governed by a set of bylaws and has a board of officers that oversees the operations.

Upham said when the fire department spends money from the county budget, department personnel turn in receipts and reimbursements are issued by check from the county if needed.

The interlocal agreement does not require an audit of financial matters.

 When the question of allowing the Morrow’s to continue to have access to fire department equipment and property was brought up during the hearing, Gomez said he was concerned there would not be a volunteer fire department either way he ruled.

“I don’t want to put the community in a situation where well-being is in danger,” Gomez said.

Fire Department Training Officer Paul C. Perner IV testified that he believed the call will be answered. Perner also said that all members of the department are upset in some way over the allegations.

Perner also said that he was not aware of the petition signed by fire department members until it was presented in the hearing. He said the department has 30-35 active members.

“We hope the folks of the volunteer fire department are committed to the fire department, not the personalities of the fire department,” English added.

The next court hearing on the case will be held at 10 a.m. Feb. 13.

Johnson requested a speedy trial in the case, and Gomez said he will set that at the Feb. 13 hearing.

 

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