Hancock County sheriff’s deputies arrested an employee of the Diamondhead Fire Protection District on Monday, accusing her of embezzling more than $25,000 from taxpayers.
Sandra Morris Zitterkopf, 55, of Kiln, faces a charge of embezzlement.
Sheriff Ricky Adam said his deputies took Zitterkopf into custody just before noon on Monday. She is being held in the Hancock County jail in lieu of $20,000 bond.
“It is with a heavy heart that I announce to the public that we have recently discovered incidents of potential fraud and misappropriation of funds within the Diamondhead Fire Protection District,” Fire Chief Jerry Dubuisson said. “My office and our Board of Commissioners are fully cooperating with the Sheriff’s investigation into this matter and we would like the community to know that we are taking all steps possible to ensure that the individual responsible is prosecuted.”
Dubuisson said Zitterkopf has been relieved of duty without pay, pending the outcome of the investigation.
The sheriff’s office began investigating Zitterkopf about two months ago after financial discrepancies were discovered in an audit of the district’s accounting records, Adam said.
“Our investigation determined she stole somewhere between $25,000 and $30,000,” the sheriff said.
Zitterkopf worked as a clerk for the district, collecting monthly fees from taxpayers who own property within the Diamondhead Fire Department’s protection zone.
Adam said Zitterkopf slowly embezzled the money over the past year.
The Diamondhead Fire Protection District is autonomous and independent of the city.
“We don’t have any control over them,” Diamondhead Mayor Tommy Schafer said. “They have their own directors and their own chief. I would have to defer any comment to their chief or chairman of the board.”