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A former McMahan fire chief is in even more hot water. Paul Barth has been indicted for stealing tens of thousands of dollars from a charity that helps kids with special needs.
The 20 count indictments are a result of a three month long investigation by the Secret Service. The indictments allege that Barth embezzled and laundered about $218,000 from the Crusade for Children and nearly $100,000 from the McMahan Fire Protection District.
For months, speculation swirled that Barth mismanaged department funds and charity money for the Crusade, for which he sat on the board. Monday afternoon, the rumors were put to rest after a federal grand jury indicted him for one count of mail fraud and three counts of wire fraud. A secret service agent investigating the case says the most serious is the 16 counts of money laundering.
Agent Paul Johnson says Barth opened a savings account in which his was the only authorized signature. Neither the fire department nor the Crusade authorized Barth to open the account.
"He falsely represented to the public that all the donations that were made for the Crusade would go the Crusade. But we believe in fact that a significant amount of those funds actually went into this separate account give or take about $219,000," said Johnson.
He says of that money about $104,000 was withdrawn in cash, $51,000 was transferred from the Crusade account to the McMahan Fire District general operating fund and $25,000 went to pay off the fire district credit card.
The indictment also says Barth devised a scheme to have the district issue 13 additional paychecks totaling more that $40,000.
"He was able to work the system to have additional checks cut for him for salary and also had a pay raise essentially added on to these checks," says Johnson.
Agents say Barth charged more than $40,000 in personal expenses on the fire district's credit card, including $10,000 for property taxes on his fleet of collector convertibles. Barth is pictured with one of them from the web site www.vetteweb.com. Johnson says Barth took personal trips and used the department credit card to pay for the bills. All told, federal agents say Barth embezzled and laundered over $300,000.
"A lot of them are allegations and accusations. We never had the opportunity to prove our side of the case in a lot of these," said Barth in an exclusive interview with FOX 41 back in January.
When asked if he did the things he's accused of, Barth said, "Well let me tell you, when you see it in the media like that, it hurts because again, it is only the half truth and I haven't been able to say what we wanted to say."
Barth's attorney Charles Ricketts initially agreed to an interview Monday afternoon after the indictment was handed down. But when we arrived at his office, his secretary told us Ricketts would not comment. Barth faces 150 years in prison for all counts and a $4,000,000 fine.