Florida fire rescue chief admits to stealing tens of thousands from children's charity

A Florida fire rescue chief admitted Monday to stealing tens of thousands of dollars from a charity that houses and educates abused and abandoned children.

Tampa Fire Rescue Capt. Alfred Schaffer, 50, agreed Monday to plead guilty to allegations in federal court that he stole $187,284 from Hope Children's Home over five years, according to records obtained by the Tampa Bay Times.

Hope Children's Home, which serves nearly 5,000 orphans, had wanted to expand its cottages for years to accommodate more children, but could never afford to do so, the newspaper reported.

Schaffer, the orphanage's business manager and financial officer — and son of the charity's founder — reportedly pocketed tens of thousands of dollars from the church-based charity.

Mike Higgins, the charity's executive director, told the newspaper that Schaffer actually stole more money than the $187,284 that federal authorities allege in court records. Higgins claims Schaffer stole nearly twice the amount authorities said they could prove in court, according to the newspaper.

"The money that Al Schaffer took, we could have had those cottages," Higgins told the paper. "But we had to turn children away."

Schaffer, who worked at the charity part-time, faces up to 20 years in prison.

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