News 4 Investigates: Suspended fire chief achieved college degre -

News 4 Investigates: Suspended fire chief achieved college degree thanks to taxpayers

Posted: Updated:
Monarch Fire Chief Wayne Marsonette, 46, is accused of using a company money from his previous employer for personal expenses. Credit: KMOV Monarch Fire Chief Wayne Marsonette, 46, is accused of using a company money from his previous employer for personal expenses. Credit: KMOV

A public official who is facing charges for allegedly stealing more than $150,000 from two private companies is still collecting taxpayer money.

In fact, the fire chief of the Monarch Fire District in west St. Louis County has even completed a college degree on the public dime, all after being suspended without pay.

News 4 requested documents that show Chuck Marsonette was given thousands of dollars in benefits and that has some people shaking their heads.

“I am just looking at this like, wow,” said Jeff Edwards.

Edwards pays taxes for the Monarch Fire Protection District.

He first spoke to News 4 last year because of the view out his window at his job at the Creve Coeur Airport.

He took pictures, he says, of Monarch Fire Chief Chuck Marsonette getting in airplanes and flying away.

“On a weekly basis, I would see him come and go, morning, mid-morning, and I'm look at my watch going, ‘boy it's 8:30 and I'm seeing the chief going to go fly someone else's airplane,” Edwards said.

Court documents say Marsonette was a private pilot and worked for two separate companies. Marsonette currently faces four felony counts of stealing from those companies.

When he was arrested, the Monarch Fire Protection District suspended Marsonette without pay.

That’s why Edwards says he was shocked by what News 4 showed him.

“It's incredible, it's incredible,” Edwards said.

Monarch paid Marsonette more $10,000 for sick time and vacation.  He’s also receiving health care benefits, almost $1,700 a month.

The district has even reimbursed Marsonette for tuition to attend college in the range to $6,000.

“We are talking about criminal behavior, so to me it's not a wise use of fire district's resources,” said Edwards.

News 4 sat down with Rick Gans with the Monarch Fire Department.

“Why should taxpayers pay for Mr. Marsonette to better himself while he's facing this pending charge?” asked Investigative Reporter Lauren Trager.

“Because he's not guilty of any charges,” Gans said.

Gans told News 4 all district employees are entitled to tuition reimbursement.

As chief, Marsonette was paid close to $160,000. His contract required him to get an undergrad degree before the start of 2017. 

According to a document News 4 obtained, Marsonette achieved a Bachelor's of Science in Fire and Emergency Management from Kaplan University on December 24, 2016, four months after being suspended.

Gans says he felt paying out was the right thing to do.

“He fulfilled his end of agreement, signed up, paid for tuition, attended the class, got good grades, he asked for tuition, we asked for it,” Gans said.

It’s a decision, like others by the board, with which Edwards just disagrees.

“The district officials, I think, have fallen down on the job and they need to be accountable,” Edwards said.

Gans also says he was concerned they could be sued for not making these benefits payments to Marsonette.

After he was suspended, the board ordered a complete audit of his public spending, but found no wrong doing.

News 4 made several attempts to speak with Marsonette, including through his lawyer, but never heard back.

Copyright 2017 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly