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Salvation Army Bell Ringer Fired, Accused Of Stealing

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PLANO (CBS 11 NEWS) – Michael Kenton has seen a lot of things, but says this is a first.

While in the parking lot of Wal-Mart located off of Highway 121 and Ohio Road in Plano, he says he witnessed a Salvation Army bell ringer acting suspiciously.

Kenton grabbed his cell phone and started recording.

The video shows a man Plano police identify as Gregory Vaughn, who was working for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign.

As soon as people dropped donations into the kettle, police say Vaughn would shake the kettle and take the money.

“My first thought was we’re getting ‘punked’ like the television show, this can’t be real,” said Kenton.

Kenton kept recording and watched as it went on for more than thirty-minutes.

“The Salvation Army does so much that’s good for the community. It just didn’t seem fair.”

So Kenton called Plano police and the Salvation Army.

Major Ward Matthews is over the Salvation Army for Dallas-Ft Worth. He was upset when he learned of the incident.

“I got really angry,” said Matthews. “The Salvation is a place of second chances and this individual took advantage of the good faith we placed in him.”

The Red Kettle campaign brings in millions of dollars nationwide to help families in need-especially at Christmas time.

To guard against theft, the kettles have locks on each side and the opening on top is very small.

Most of the bell ringers are volunteers, but Vaughn was hired since he was in need of a job.

The Salvation Army says it hopes an isolated incident like this won’t affect donations.

“We’re going to do whatever we can so that the public knows we do not allow this,” said Matthews.

Vaughn was terminated immediately by the Salvation Army.

Plano police recovered the money but issued Vaughn a citation for theft under $50 which is Class C misdemeanor.

The concerned citizen who alerted police, hopes the man in the video will remember ’tis the season to give, not to take.

“If it wasn’t so sad it would be the funniest thing I’ve seen in my life,” said Kenton. “It’s really heartbreaking.”

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