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A former EMT was arrested by Auburn-based state police on Friday and charged with of stealing thousands of dollars from the Montezuma Fire Department during her tenure as the department's treasurer.

District Attorney Jon Budelmann said Leslea L. White, of Port Byron, allegedly wrote checks to herself, pocketing at least $15,000 of the Montezuma Fire Department's funds. He said the alleged theft was discovered in October after the department took a close look at its accounts.

"She was treasurer for a couple years, and was beat in an election," Budelmann said. "I do know that they did an audit."

Fire Commissioner Chester Helmer of the Montezuma Fire Department said he and some of his fellow firefighters were suspicious of the 25-year-old woman and decided to audit the department's books after she was ousted from her role as secretary and treasurer in a recent election.

He said the audit's results pointed to $15,000 of missing money, devastating the department.

Montezuma Fire Department officials reported their findings to state police in October and waited to hear what investigators discovered. Four month later, the firefighters received a response in the form of White's arrest.

Although he considered the arrest "a long time coming," Helmer said he was pleased.

"I'm just hoping she gets her just cause," he said. "It's pretty blatant what she did to a small town like us."

White was charged with third-degree grand larceny and first-degree falsifying business records, both felonies. She was remanded to the custody of the Cayuga County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail.

In the meantime, Helmer said he and his fellow firefighters plan to adopt policies that help deter more alleged thefts as they wait to "see justice served."

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Staff writer Samantha House can be reached at 282-2282 or samantha.house@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter at Citizen_House.

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