Former Mississippi fire official accused of embezzling thousands dies

Published 7:22 am Friday, October 1, 2021

A former fire official accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Mississippi firefighters group died Wednesday from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

WDAM in Hattiesburg reports that William Lee Garick was taken to the emergency room at the South Central Regional Medical Center in Laurel and later transported to the Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg on Wednesday night. Garick was pronounced dead at 9 p.m.

Garick, 42, was arrested in late August and charged with two counts of embezzlement by the Jones County Sheriff’s Department.

A former president of the Jones County Fire Council, chief at the Calhoun Volunteer Fire Department and volunteer medic with the Jones County Sheriff’s Department SWAT team, Garick was accused of taking as much as $400,000 from an account used to fund volunteer fire departments that serve Jones County.

According to the Jones County Sheriff’s Department, Garick was released from jail on Sept. 10, on a $60,000 bond.

The death is still under investigation.

Jones County Fire Council spokeswoman Dana Bumgardner issued this statement on behalf of the fire council.