Tallahassee firefighter arrested, accused of stealing from charity

Joseph "Mike" Amison
Joseph "Mike" Amison(WCTV)
Published: Sep. 6, 2017 at 4:49 PM EDT
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By: Aubrey Brown | WCTV Eyewitness News

September 28, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A member of the Tallahassee Fire Department has been arrested in connection to a fraud investigation surrounding a fundraising event.

Joseph "Mike" Amison is charged with fraud for swindling to obtain property under $20,000, embezzlement for failure to apply contributions in a consistent manner, and two counts of grand theft of more than $10,000 but less than $20,000.

Mike Amison and his wife, Jennifer Amison, a Tallahassee Police Department officer, held a

for the families of Captain Brad Deanda, Chris Thurman and Shelby Allen.

The Leon County Sheriff's Office estimates that nearly $24,000 was raised during the event. But detailed in a 13-page probable cause report, the three families say they never received any money, but rather received excuses from the Amisons.

In a text message from Mike Amison to Jimmy Allen, Shelby's father, Amison says he and his wife were dealing with health problems and issues with their business, which was causing the delay.

Amison said, "As soon as things settle down for us here soon we will portion out the money."

LCSO says the families did not see any money until at least 87 days after the event, and the funds that were distributed were not consistent with the amount of money that was reportedly raised.

Mike Amison was booked into the Leon County Jail Wednesday. Jennifer Amison still has a warrant out for her arrest.


By: Alicia Turner | WCTV Eyewitness News

UPDATE

September 6, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Hundreds of family members and friends gathering in February to honor and raise money for three families who lost loved ones with the Tallahassee Fire Department. One of them was Captain Brad Deanda. He was struck by a car, while on the side of the road off-duty. Many of the people who showed up to donate said they didn’t do it because they felt obligated, but because the people who died were members of their family.

“This isn't about you asking, we are giving because we care, and we love them," one donator said.

But the reality was that money, allegedly never reached the families; despite Jennifer and Mike Amison, telling our camera's the night of the event, it was all for them.

"Not that we could ever fill that void, but just hopefully help them know that they're supported, and let them know that they can reach out to us if they need us," Jennifer Amison said.

This fundraiser was two months after Captain Deanda was killed. In a twelve page probable cause report, the families say they reached out to the Amison’s, getting excuses, but never any money.

The PC goes on to say a text from Mike Amison, to one of the families read in part:

"The MONEY is in a bank account and when we are able we will distribute it."

The Tallahassee Fire and Police Department released a joint statement. It said:

“As public servants, we hold members of the Tallahassee Police Department and Tallahassee Fire Department to the highest standard. Any potential violation of our respective codes of conduct is taken seriously. Maintaining the public’s trust is paramount for each of our agencies to effectively serve our community, and we work to ensure that our actions honor that trust and the positions we hold. Both employees have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of departmental investigations.”

Documents allege thousand of dollars were raised. Investigators say some or all of it went to the Amison’s personal use.

Jennifer Amison’s attorney is Michael MacNamara. He had this to say in regards to the investigation:

“They didn’t misappropriate or embezzle any money that they helped raise for the firefighter families who lost loved ones.”


By: Fletcher Keel | WCTV Eyewitness News

September 6, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Tallahassee Police Department and Tallahassee Fire Department have been notified that warrants have been issued for a member of each department in connection to a fraud investigation conducted by the Leon County Sheriff's Office.

LCSO says Jennifer Amison with TPD and Joseph "Mike" Amison with TFD have warrants for charges of organized scheme to defraud, failure to apply contributions in a manner substantially consistent with solicitation and two counts of grand theft between $10,000-$20,000.

Both Jennifer Aminson and Mike Amison held a

for three TFD families, including Capt. Brad Deanda, Chris Thurman and Jimmy Allen's daughter, Shelby.

LCSO confirmed to WCTV that money raised from the fundraiser is involved in the investigation.