Hartwell, GA (January 4, 2021) – The GBI has arrested Nicholas Leard, 38, of Lavonia, Georgia on five counts of felony theft by taking.

On Monday, December 28, 2020, the GBI Region 11 Field Office was requested by the Hart County Sheriff’s Office to investigate allegations of misuse of funds in a bank account in the name of Shoal Creek Fire Station, a fire station in the Hart County Fire Department. The GBI and Sheriff’s Office investigators were able to identify transactions of a personal nature in excess of $3,000 from a bank account intended for use to purchase equipment and supplies for the fire station. Agents learned that funds within the bank account were received from charitable donations and fundraising efforts of the volunteer firefighters. Leard is a firefighter assigned to the Shoal Creek Fire Station.

This investigation is ongoing and will be turned over to the Northern Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office for prosecution. Anyone with information regarding this investigation may contact the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Region 11 Field Office at (706) 552-2309. Tips can also be submitted by calling 1-800-597-TIPS(8477), online at https://gbi.georgia.gov/submit-tips-online, or by downloading the See Something, Send Something mobile app.

Contact Assistant Special Agent in Charge

Mark Lavender