A former San Leon assistant fire chief was indicted Thursday on a charge of felony theft by a public servant.
Eldon Scott Lyons, 39, is accused of taking between $100,000 and $200,000 from the San Leon Volunteer Fire Department and using the money for personal purchases, according to the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office.
A grand jury electing to indict Lyons was the result of a probe that began nearly one year ago. The public integrity division of the district attorney’s office investigated purchases made by Lyons from July 2008 through May 2015. Assistant District Attorney James Haugh declined to specify an amount of money, nor did he disclose how the funds were allegedly stolen.
About a year ago, the fire department started an internal investigation into purchases made by Lyons and hired a law firm to examine bank records, San Leon Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jeff Pittman said. After noticing questionable purchases, the department turned over the information to the district attorney’s office, Pittman said. Lyons voluntarily left in May 2015, when the department started investigating, Pittman said.
“As far as what he’s done helping the community with fire fighting and EMS, there are people walking around today because he saved their life,” Pittman said. “It’s been a disappointing and trying time. I’m torn, but you’ve got to do the right thing.”
Lyons’ attorney, Jonathan Zendeh Del, declined to comment on the charge, saying it was too early to know details of the allegations.
The fire department is funded through the San Leon Municipal Utility District. Residents pay $8 a month through water bills to fund the department, which has mutual-aid agreements to assist other fire departments in the county when necessary. The fire department’s annual budget is about $250,000, Pittman said.
In 2013, The Daily News honored Lyons as an “Everyday Hero” in its annual Profiles publication. The Galveston native began volunteering as a firefighter shortly after graduating high school.
The charge carries a possible penalty of five to 99 years in prison, as well as a fine up to $10,000. Prosecutors issued a warrant for Lyons’ arrest, and his bond was set at $20,000.