KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — A former firefighter at the Chesapeake Volunteer Fire Department pleaded guilty to embezzlement.

Steven “P.J.” Johnson was charged with embezzlement and grand larceny in February 2022 after an investigation into a Chesapeake VFD checking account.

A criminal complaint says that Johnson acted as the “de facto” treasurer of the department.

According to the complaint, Johnson completed a cashier’s check from the CVFD’s general expense account made payable to City National Bank in the amount of $4,500 on Sept. 4, 2019. The memo section of the check is said to have said “aep,” indicating that the check would be used to cover utility bills. The complaint says that Johnson then requested 45 $100 bills.

CVFD’s AEP payments were traditionally paid online and debited directly from CVFD’s general account, and, on Sept. 6, 2019, AEP debited two online payments from the account in the amounts of $200.24 and $3,867.16.

No deposit of the $4,500 could be found in a review of all known bank accounts.

Investigators concluded that the $4,500 had been converted to U.S. currency “under the guise of paying ‘aep.’”