Fire chief burned in connection to wife’s phony credit card scheme
Apparently Mark Ladas’ $216,062 annual salary wasn’t enough to cover his and his wife’s expenses.
The 50-year-old chief of the Central County Fire Department, which serves Burlingame and Hillsborough, was arrested last Wednesday and charged with six counts of grand theft, two counts of filing false tax returns and two counts of tax evasion, according to several Bay Area newspaper reports. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in a Redwood City courtroom on Thursday and was released shortly after his sister posted his $80,000 bail.
Ladas, who became Fire Chief in April of 2013, has been placed on paid administrative leave. Deputy Fire Chief John Kammeyer has been appointed Acting Fire Chief.
“The department is bigger than any one person, and this action will not affect the excellent service that our firefighters and civilian staff provide to our community, all day, every day,” stated Lisa Goldman, the Central County Fire Department’s Chief Administrative Officer. “Acting Chief Kammeyer is a long-time leader in the department, and I am confident that he will excel at the job.”
According to charges filed by the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, Ladas’ wife, Peta, used false names to open several fraudulent credit card accounts between January 2011 and June 2013. She then started a fake business to make false transactions on the credit cards and deposited the transaction money into several bank accounts that also used false names. She was arrested in connection to the scheme in December of 2012, but after her husband posted her $10,000 bail, she fled the country. She remains a fugitive.
An investigation into Mark began soon after. The District Attorney’s Office discovered $35,000 in fraudulent deposits had been made into three bank accounts in his name. Moreover, for both 2011 and 2012, neither Mark nor Peta claimed any of the proceeds from their fake business in their tax returns.
The Superior Court will review Ladas’ case on January 22 and will be followed by a preliminary hearing on February 26.
San Jose Mercury News: Peninsula fire chief pleads not guilty to felony grand theft, tax evasion
SFGate: California fire chief pleads not guilty in theft
San Mateo Daily Journal: Fire chief arrested for theft: Central County’s Mark Ladas held on $80,000 bail, placed on administrative leave