On The Money: Garden Valley Fire Chief Under Investigation

CBS13 has learned that Garden Valley Fire Chief Bill Dekker is under investigation by the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office.

In an interview with CBS13, District Attorney Vern Pierson told On The Money he has opened a criminal investigation focusing on the fire chief’s purchases on the fire department’s credit card.

CBS13 has obtained copies of the questionable credit card billings, which include $3,400 in charges to something called Willingness to Change – a drug and alcohol treatment center – according to the website.

bill dekker1 On The Money: Garden Valley Fire Chief Under Investigation

Fire Chief Bill Dekker (credit: gardenvalleyfire.org)

The billings came from Bill Dekker, on the Garden Valley Fire Department’s credit card.

“I’ve never seen anything like that in my 17 years as county auditor,” said Joe Harn, El Dorado County’s fiscal watchdog.

Harn has been scrutinizing the Garden Valley Fire Protection District’s spending and credit card purchases.

“I don’t understand why it would be the burden of the taxpayers in Garden Valley to pick up this $3,400 charge for alcohol and or drug counseling,” Harn told CBS 13.

CBS13 tried reaching the Garden Valley fire chief in person – and found the station door wide open – and no one appeared to be on duty.

“Hello, anybody home?” the reporter asked out loud.

Chief Dekker did not respond to phone calls at the fire station – or at his home in Greenwood. The Garden Valley Fire District Board was also silent on the matter.

CBS13 wanted to know why the board chose a chief with a checkered past – that includes a drunken driving arrest while Dekker was on duty as a fire chief in Nevada. Dekker “admitted drinking and hitting (a) victim with fire truck while driving”, according to the arrest report from the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, as documented in Case #96-0361.

Dekker was charged with driving under the influence, paid a $750 fine and completed a DUI workshop, according to court documents from Case #96-20021. Court records also show Dekker pled no contest to disorderly conduct charges in Arizona, resulting in his resignation as fire chief there, according to newspaper reports.

CBS13 found other questionable purchases on Chief Dekker’s Garden Valley Fire District credit card, including an $85 charge at a Good Feet store in Santa Barbara and a $34 charge at a Payless Shoe store in Placerville.

The El Dorado County auditor calls those purchases very unusual. Chief Dekker isn’t talking about any of his charges – but Garden Valley residents are beginning to wonder.

“That’s wrong,” said Melvin Howard, a Garden Valley resident.

“Yeah, it needs to be looked into a little bit to say the least,” said Lew Price, another Garden Valley resident.

The county auditor has already refused to issue $131,000 in other payments to the Garden Valley Fire Department – citing a breach of contract. As for the credit card purchases, Joe Harn says he has no control over that.

“There is a significant financial management problem at Garden Valley Fire,” Harn told CBS13.

“We opened a criminal investigation to look into this further,” District Attorney Pierson told CBS13.

More from On The Money
  • Ann Musso

    If Chief Dekker does not willingly submit his resignation, I hope the Fire Board has the sense to remove him from his duties. Obviously he is not fit to run a fire department in legal and ethical manner. And what’s up with a husband and wife both being on the Fire Board? Come on, people. The Smith’s are NOT the only people in Garden Valley!

  • Anna

    Why is Harn going after Garden Valley Fire? I think this is politically motivated and I am sure Ron Briggs is involved. While I respect Mr. Harn as the County Auditor, I think he should mind his business. The tax monies are collected and distributed by the county, the county is not the God of the special districts. And as far as the Smith’s are concerned, she is very ill and is in the hospital. If the residents have concerns they should find others to run for the board.

  • Jack

    Did anybody bother to check if the expenses were reimbursable by medical insurance or his uniform allowance? In that case, they would be perfectly legal and there would be no story. Providing that insurance or Chief Dekker is reimbursing the department for the counseling, he should be encouraged to seek help, not condemned like in the report. Questionable expenses are: booze, gambling and strip clubs. Reimbursable expenses for counseling and uniforms are not “questionable”.

  • Divide tax paying resident

    There is a relevant point with Jack’s statement. If people scrutinized every business in El Dorado County, there would be A LOT more stores like this, but the truth of the matter is that these small, rural fire departments are not doing their residents justice by hiring chiefs with felonies in their past, or hiring chiefs that were paid a substantial amount of money to leave their last chief position (See Greg Schwab – Georgetown Fire) These board members need to figure out how to run a department that supports the residents of that area or the members need to be voted out. Step up if you have some business sense and want to volunteer a microscopic amount of time to be a board member of your local fire department!

    • Steve G. Retired FF

      Dekker’s contract was not renewed in AZ because of the issue of the disorderly conduct during a fire incident in May 2007. The board placed him on 30 day suspension and did not renew the contract in September 2007. The last court date Dekker had for this in AZ was in November 2007 after he was already hired at Garden Valley Fire. This information was not fully disclosed to the board with his interview or application. Dekker did state it was a misunderstanding and he was on vacation and the paper stated he was suspended. But he was suspended. Dekker also told the board that it was a felon’s girlfriend that filed the charges when if fact it was the sheriffs at the scene who filed the charges and the firefighter apologized for Dekker’s behavior to the sheriff officers.

  • Garden Valley Fire taxpayer

    Go to this website and read all about this corrupt Fire Chief, Fire Board.and Fire department.


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