Burned: Fireman admits theft of cancer research donations

A Tallassee volunteer firefighter is off the squad and is now behind bars on felony 2nd Degree Theft charges. Tallassee Police arrested and charged Phillip Lee Jones after he allegedly took money that was supposed to go to cancer research.

The Tallassee Firefighters Association recently sold pink T-shirts in an effort to support breast cancer awareness and research. Police said Jones admitted to stealing the money raised from the shirt sales. The 'pink' proceeds made for a red hot theft. More than $2,000 disappeared.

Court documents obtained by WSFA 12 News show that police were told by Jones that he'd taken the to fuel his drug habit.

Residents in Tallassee, a quite but growing city just outside Montgomery, found the charges hard to believe.

"It's just sad that someone would take the money and do something else with it, besides what they should have done with it," said Joyce Butler.

Chief Matt Missildine told WSFA 12 News his comments regarding Jones were limited because of personnel policies, but did confirm that Jones is no longer with the department. Missildine added that the incident would not keep the department from doing other fundraisers in the future.

"We're in the business of having to trust people, especially with the volunteer ranks such as they are," Missildine said. "We try to think the best of people and give them the opportunity to be the best. Sometimes they bite you."

As for the shirts, everyone who purchased one received them. The department is working with police to see if the money can be returned.  At last check, Jones is still being held in the Elmore County Jail under $15,000 bond.

Copyright 2011 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.