Former Crystal Beach fire chief faces two felony indictments

By Robert Arnold - Investigative Reporter
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CRYSTAL BEACH, Texas - The former Crystal Beach fire chief is now facing two felony indictments.

Investigators say the former chief took thousands of dollars that were supposed to be used for the protection of this community and instead funneled the cash into a Louisiana casino.

"He was in a position of power, he held the power, and nobody kept him in check and he abused it," said Captain Barry Cook, with the Galveston County Sheriff's Office.

Former Crystal Beach fire chief David Loop is charged with theft by a public servant and misapplication of fiduciary property, both felonies. Galveston County Sheriff's investigators say they believe Loop began stealing from his own department shortly after Hurricane Ike destroyed Bolivar Peninsula. Sheriff's officials say he was the only one in charge of the department's finances.

"So at their worst time he was misusing what funds they were able to raise," said Cook.

He said Loop was writing checks for repairs that were never made and to buy equipment the department never received. Investigators say one example is the thousands spent on a water rescue boat that was never used because it doesn't have a motor.

"We recovered that boat and if he spent thousands on it you can't tell it," Cook said.

In all, investigators say Loop stole $73,000; with $47,000 of that from checks written for repairs and equipment purchases that never happened and $26,000 of fire department funds spent paid directly to the Delta Downs casino in Louisiana.

"It's heartbreaking. That money was earmarked for fire protection for our community," said Asst. Chief Anthony Scopel, with the Crystal Beach Fire Department.

He said the department is only just now getting equipment repaired.

"All things that should have been done years ago are finally coming to fruition and we finally have money in a bank account," Scopel said.

The chief said it has taken the department nine months to get back on its feet financially. He says it is still a struggle because the department continues to receives bills for thousands of dollars' worth repairs and equipment they didn't know they still owed.

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