Charges filed in connection to Patriot VFD funds

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 On Monday five Switzerland County residents appeared in Switzerland Circuit Court on numerous theft-related charges.

  The charges were filed after a six-month investigation by the Indiana State Police-Special Investigations Section into theft from the Patriot Volunteer Fire Department.

  The investigation began in March of 2020 when the Indiana State Police began an investigation after being notified that a group of individuals were attempting to fraudulently gain control of the equipment and assets of the fire department, which had not been operational since 2017.

  The investigation determined that, on March 16th, 2020, Christopher See, 37, filed fraudulent paperwork with the State of Indiana to take control of the fire department. See, along with Christopher Miller, 32, Caitlyn Staat, 19, Jacob Parker, 35, and Lewis Fritter, 42, held a meeting without giving the proper public notice and without giving notice to the remaining members of the Patriot Volunteer Fire Department. At the meeting, only attended by the five individuals, See was chosen to be president and Miller was chosen to be the new chief of the fire department. Parker was chosen as assistant chief and Staat was chosen to be the treasurer. The new officers were elected without following the existing by-laws of the Patriot Volunteer Fire Department.

  See, Miller, and Staat then contacted the First Financial Bank in Vevay, where they used the fraudulently filed paperwork to put their names on the accounts containing the department’s money. They then gained access to the Patriot Volunteer Fire Department’s building, which contained the department’s equipment.

  At the conclusion of the investigation, the case was presented to the Switzerland County Prosecutor’s Office for review. This led to all five suspects being arrested and charged on Monday.

  • Christopher See was arrested on charges of Conspiracy to Defraud a Financial Institution, Conspiracy to Commit Theft (4 counts), Perjury (7 counts), and Official Misconduct.

  • Christopher Miller was arrested on charges of Conspiracy to Defraud a Financial Institution, and Conspiracy to Commit Theft (4 counts).

  • Caitlyn Staat was arrested on charges of Conspiracy to Defraud a Financial Institution, and Conspiracy to Commit Theft (4 counts).

  • Jacob Parker was arrested on charges of Conspiracy to Defraud a Financial Institution, and Conspiracy to Commit Theft (4 counts).

  • Lewis Fritter was arrested on charges of Conspiracy to Defraud a Financial Institution, and Conspiracy to Commit Theft (4 counts).

  All five suspects attended an initial hearing on Monday morning in the Switzerland County Circuit Court, and were released on their own recognizance following the hearing.

  All persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.