Former Hayden fire chief arrested on theft charges

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Charles Vega By Jennifer Thomas Charles Vega By Jennifer Thomas
Stolen chainsaw By Jennifer Thomas Stolen chainsaw By Jennifer Thomas

HAYDEN, Ariz. -- Pinal County sheriff's deputies arrested the former fire chief in Hayden, Ariz., on theft charges last month.

Charles Vega, 37, is accused of stealing money and chainsaws. He was arrested Feb. 20 and booked on charges of theft of controlled property and trafficking in stolen property. He has since been released on his own recognizance.

Hayden police contacted the Pinal County Sheriff's Office in late December after money from an annual dance fundraiser for the town's volunteer fire department was found to be missing, according to sheriff's spokeswoman Tamra Ingersoll. Police said they believed the theft had been done by a town employee.

At the time, the Gila County Sheriff's Office was investigating the theft of as many as four chainsaws worth $1,120 each from the Asarco Mine in Kearny, Ariz. It was discovered that Vega was a former employee of the mine and one of the last people to have the items.

The Gila County Sheriff's Office impounded one of the stolen chainsaws after Vega allegedly attempted to sell it.

"After changing his story several times, Vega finally confessed to deputies that he had stolen the chainsaw from the Asarco Mine to be able to replace the money he stole from the town fund," Ingersoll said in a news release.

Vega told deputies that he spent the $850 from the fundraiser on small items for the fire department and personal items for himself.