New Mexico

Firefighter with ties to chief fired after stealing from the county

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (KRQE) - KRQE News 13 has learned a New Mexico fire chief's son was fired for stealing from the fire department where he also worked, and it's just the latest trouble for that department.

It was 2015 when the Otero County Emergency Services director noticed something fishy with the fuel logs.

“For a period of time we were tracking what we thought was a fuel theft although it was not easily identified for another month or two,” said Otero County Emergency Services Director Pail Quairoli. 

After taking the information to the Otero County Fire Chief at the time, the case led to an investigation into employee gas card use at the La Luz Volunteer Fire Department.

“They were not quite easy to identify because the cards were not being used the way they were supposed to be,” Quairoli said.

In a letter to the state auditor sent in February, Quairoli spells out the wrong-doing he found. He says the four charges were at unusual places for the La Luz Department to be fueling up.

The firefighter behind the $73 in theft is Erik Bloom, and he just so happens to have some ties to the department. His dad, Norm Bloom, was the assistant chief at the time. He's also the current fire chef.

KRQE News 13 asked if Erik Bloom was ever fired or charged for the theft.

Quairoli said, “After that he was suspended, he was ordered to do community service hours and the fire chief was to make sure all of that happened.”

Bloom was never allowed back with the department and the money was never paid back.

“The work that he was doing, community service hours, was to defer that cost because he did not have a job at that point,” Quairoli said. 

Since then, he says the department has changed the way it distributes and uses gas cards.

Last year, the chief who was in charge when Bloom misused the gas card, Rob Hahn, was charged with theft himself.

Investigators say Hahn stole more than $2,000 collected for the Muscular Dystrophy Association during a "Fill the Boot" campaign.

The person who reported the suspected crime was assistant chief Norm Bloom, who then became chief after Hahn. Hahn was later fired, and is still awaiting trial in that case. 


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