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Buckeye firefighter arrested and accused of orchestrating burglary of fire station

Posted at 6:40 PM, Feb 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-22 00:28:03-05

BUCKEYE, AZ — A veteran firefighter with the Buckeye Fire Department has been arrested on a felony burglary charge, as well as weapons and drug-related charges, according to the Buckeye Police Department.

In a news release, police said 39-year-old Frank R. Zepeda, a 12-year member of the Buckeye Fire Department, was arrested Thursday and faces charges of burglary in Buckeye, and weapons and drug charges in Glendale. He will be booked into MCSO's Fourth Avenue Jail. Additional charges are possible, police said.

Buckeye police called the allegations "unsettling" if true and said the Buckeye Fire Department "is offering its full cooperation with the ongoing criminal investigations by both Buckeye and Glendale Police Departments," in a statement. After learning about the investigation, Fire Chief Bob Costello said he began termination proceedings against Zepeda.

“The Buckeye Fire Department remains committed to providing the very highest level of service to the community and will work tirelessly to continue to provide transparency to the City of Buckeye residents,” said Costello in a statement.

Among the allegations, Zepeda is accused of helping orchestrate the theft of $10,000 in firefighting equipment from a Buckeye fire station in April 2018. According to police, on April 29, 2018, an on-duty firefighter noticed equipment was missing from Station 706, including fire turnouts, drug and IV boxes, and ballistic vests.

Police said investigators received information earlier this month that implicated Zepeda in the burglary "which was allegedly carried out by members of a motorcycle club in which Zepeda is president," according to the statement.

During that investigation, police said they received information about Zepeda's possibly involvement in a shooting in Glendale from March 2018. According to the statement, Glendale police confirmed to Buckeye police that they had a report about a "car having been riddled with bullets" near 67th Avenue and Bell Road. No one was reportedly hurt in that shooting.

Buckeye police did not specify what Zepeda's connection to that shooting was, but said its investigative information was shared with Glendale police.

Police served a search warrant at Zepeda's home in Glendale, among other locations, and found cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia.