Several months of investigation by Hopkins County Fire Marshal’s Office and Texas Rangers resulted in two longtime members of Como Volunteer Fire Department being jailed for misuse of fiduciary funds and the department being temporarily taken out of service, Hopkins County fire marshals said Friday afternoon.
Como VFD Secretary\Treasurer Roy George Darby, 78, and Chief Darren Dwayne Harris (who is known as Bro), 53, were arrested Friday morning on one warrant each for theft of $1,500 to $20,000. They remained in the county jail Friday afternoon. Bond was set at $10,000 each on the charge, according to jail reports.
The investigation began a few months ago, after county fire marshals received a tip that a member of Como VFD had purchased alcohol while driving a Como VFD fire truck. That revealed other activity, that resulted in further investigation and the Texas Ranger being brought in on the case. The officials looked into years worth of financial records, according to the fire marshals.
Darby and Harris and others were called in beginning Friday morning for interviews at the sheriff’s office regarding the alleged misuse of fiduciary funds. Interviews continued until after 3 p.m. Friday.
Based on the information attained during the investigation, warrants were attained for Darby and Harris’ arrests for theft of funds from the department. The theft charge is typically a state jail felony offense. However, because the pair as fire department members are considered public servants, the charge is enhanced to a third-degree felony, the fire marshals said Friday afternoon.
At this time, no other arrests have been made in connection with the case nor have any additional charges been filed for Darby and Harris. However, the investigation into the misuse of funds is ongoing, the fire marshals said.
An announcement was made, per the county fire marshals office, at 3:30 p.m. Friday that Como VFD has been temporarily placed out of service pending administrative review.
Any further action regarding Como VFD, including the department being put back into service, will be determined by the City of Como, Hopkins County Commissioners Court and Hopkins County Fire chief, the fire marshals said.