Investigators are trying to figure out if a former assistant fire chief in Lincolnton who is accused of embezzling funds from a fire charity did the same thing to his church.
Bill Fortenberry stepped down from his position as assistant fire chief after allegations surfaced that he took thousands of dollars from a local burned children's fund. Fortenberry served as treasurer of the fund since 1992.
"When this came out, he went to the church and came to the altar and asked for forgiveness," said Roy Pearson, a member of Pisgah United Methodist Church. "We all forgive, and if he asks the right way, God will forgive him."
However, Fortenberry may have to ask for forgiveness again. According to the State Bureau of Investigations, the District Attorney's office requested they investigate potential embezzlement of church funds by Fortenberry.
"I don't know where he could've gotten it from, unless it's something like Methodist Men or something. That would be the only way he could get any money," explained Pearson.
Fortenberry is a long-time member of Pisgah. He is also listed as the treasurer of the men's ministry according to the church's website.
The District Attorney's office would not say if there is evidence of any money taken from the church, but thousands have been reported missing from the local children's burn fund. The money raised by volunteer firefighters provides non-medical support for the young victims suffering from severe burns.
"You would never have thought that, never," said friend Tammy Ballenger. "I know him and his wife really well. They're really nice people."
NBC Charlotte tried to reach Fortenberry in his home, but no one answered the door. Calls to the church were not returned. The SBI says this is an ongoing investigation. When they complete their inquiry, they will turn over findings to the District Attorney's office, who will then determine if Fortenberry will face any criminal charges.