Eagle fire chief arrested, charged with stealing $120,000 from city of Sterling
EAGLE — Greater Eagle Fire Department’s recently hired fire chief was arrested Thursday night, charged with stealing more than $120,000 from the city of Sterling between 2010 and 2015.
Kurt Vogel, and his wife, Hope, face felony charges of theft, attempt to influence a public servant, official misconduct and forgery, according to a press release from the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. The pair were arrested by Colorado Bureau of Investigation agents and taken to the Eagle County Jail after their arrest, where they were held without bond.
According to 13th Judicial District Attorney Brittny Lewton, the process was under way Friday morning to transfer the couple to Sterling, where they will be advised by a judge.
The investigation that led to the Vogels’ arrests was conducted by the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, when Lewton was contacted by the Sterling city attorney and Sterling city manager earlier this year, after certain bookkeeping irregularities and missing firefighting equipment was discovered upon Vogel’s departure in April. At that point, Lewton’s investigators began obtaining search warrants for financial records and documentation from the city of Sterling in order to determine if in fact the city’s concerns had merit.
In addition to the felony theft charge, Kurt Vogel also faces charges of attempt to influence a public servant, a class four felony; first degree official misconduct; and forgery, a class five felony. Vogel served as fire chief for the city of Sterling from 2009 to 2016. Hope Vogel was not employed by the city, according to City Manager Don Saling.
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Kurt Vogel began work in Eagle in April of this year.
Kurt Vogel was hired by the Greater Eagle Fire Department after a lengthy nationwide search which included background checks. He came to the department with a resume that included seven years at Sterling and more than 30 years of emergency services experience.
At the time of his hiring, Kurt Vogel said he was not actively looking to change jobs, but he was attracted by the opportunity in Eagle.
When contacted Friday morning, Greater Eagle Fire Protection District Board President Eric Peterson said he learned of Vogel’s arrest Thursday night, when law enforcement personnel returned the chief’s duty vehicle.
On Friday afternoon, the fire district issued a statement saying that Kurt Vogel has been placed on leave.
“The board of directors will be considering the matter at their regular monthly board meeting on Wednesday. Division Chief Bill Kennedy is serving as acting fire chief at this time,” stated the fire district’s press release. “The district will have no further comment at this time on this personnel matter.”
Friday morning the Sterling city manager also issued a press release regarding Kurt Vogel’s arrest. The release reiterated that the investigation was initiated by the city but did not specifically name Kurt Vogel or his wife.
“To safeguard transparency and an independent investigation, the city contacted the district attorney after first learning of the possible misconduct. We have and will continue to fully cooperate with the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office in this investigation,” said the city’s press release. “To ensure the highest level of standards are being followed, the city of Sterling will not tolerate any misconduct by any city or former city employee.”
The press release states that following the internal investigation, city officials took measures to strengthen its internal controls. “We will continue to review our internal processes and enact additional measures to protect the city.
“Any misuse of city property is adverse to the values and commitment that we strive for as a city,” Sterling’s release continues. “We immediately brought our concerns to the attention of the district attorney’s office, have taken decisive actions on this matter, and we will continue to remain steadfast in our endeavors to provide the highest standards of public trust for our community.”