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Raleigh County, WV Fire Chief charged with embezzlement, fraudulent schemes

Release from the State Auditor’s Office:

CHARLESTON, W.Va.- A former volunteer fire chief has been indicted by a RaleighCounty Grand Jury for stealing from the Town of Sophia Volunteer Fire Department based on the testimony of investigators with the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office. The Indictment charges the man, Kenneth Richard Churning, 60, with taking a total of $133,454.58 from the fire department. That total was comprised of $118,509.47 in ATM and cash withdrawals, $13,740 in cash back transactions, and personal expense reimbursement of $1,205.11. All of these actions were alleged to occur from July of 2017 through December of 2019.

State Auditor, John B. McCuskey, applauded the cooperative efforts of the Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney in working with his office to bring the case to court. “This case is one of many where we worked with our local partners in the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, the Raleigh County Prosecutor, Sheriff’s Office, Fire Coordinator’s Office and the Town of Sophia. It takes so many players to come and work together to move complex cases forward – and that is what we all did here leading to this indictment.” said McCuskey.

Auditor McCuskey gave special thanks to Raleigh County Prosecutor Ben Hatfield for bringing the case, as well as former Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller, Fayette County Detective – Corporal James M. Pack, Raleigh County Cpl. Adam S. Meadows, as well as investigators and staff of the Auditor’s Public Integrity and Fraud Unit.

“These matters are serious and will be treated as such. You will continue to see the results of the nearly five dozen cases our fraud group is working. If you are stealing from the government – stop it. If anyone knows of someone stealing from the state, county or local entity, they should call (833) WV-FRAUD or file an anonymous online report at www.wvsao.gov.” said McCuskey.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

In compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3.6, you are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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