ONSLOW COUNTY -

A former deputy chief of Richlands Volunteer EMS Rescue is accused of using the squad's fuel card for personal gas purchases.

The Onslow County Sheriff's Office arrested 26-year-old Kevin James Bell, of Tarawa Terrace, Wednesday morning. He was working as the deputy chief of Richlands Volunteer EMS Rescue, but is no longer a volunteer.

Between April 27 and May 7, Bell allegedly defrauded Richlands Volunteer EMS Rescue by using the squad's government-issued fuel card to buy gas for his personal vehicle from a WilcoHess in Richlands, warrants say.

According to the warrants, Bell obtained another volunteer's PIN number --without that person's permission-- in order to use the government-issued fuel card.

The warrants state that Bell used Richlands EMS' fuel card four times-- on April 27, twice on April 30, and finally on May 7. In three of those instances, Bell allegedly used the fuel card to buy gas for his personal vehicle, and in one instance, he used the card to buy gas for another person's vehicle, according to the warrants.

The gas purchased add up to $223.44, the warrants say.

Bell was dismissed as a volunteer at Richlands Volunteer EMS Rescue two weeks after the last credit card charge.

Bell is charged with four felony counts of identity theft and four misdemeanor counts of financial credit card fraud. At last check, he was being held under a $30,000 bond.

The suspect is scheduled to make his first court appearance Thursday morning.

Bell is also a sergeant with the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, said a base official.

Richlands resident Scott Sherry shared his thoughts on Bell's arrest.

"I guess they should lead by example. I mean they shouldn't be doing stuff like that," said Sherry.

In addition to Bell's arrest, Richlands Volunteer EMS Rescue is currently under investigation after a complaint was filed regarding medical practices. The squad is suspended from responding to medical calls during the investigation.

"I guess with their lead guy, they could be in a bad place. I mean, I don't know where they're headed from here," said Sherry.

Richlands Police Chief Ron Lindig said the citizens are the people who are most affected by Richland EMS' troubles.

"The citizens of Richlands and Onslow County are the ones who are really paying for this in the long run by not being able to have their services," said Lindig.

Chief Lindig said when both legal matters are over, the squad will be a better unit and serve the community like they did in the past.