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Oversight decidedly necessary following fire department embezzlements

FROM LEFT : Logan County Commission President Danny Godby, Commissioners Diana Barnette and Danny Ellis and County Prosecutor David Wandling discuss needed measures following news of 3 fire departments under investigation.

AM Stone | WVOW News

LOGAN Logan County Commissioners expressed concern over recent charges and indictments involving three fire departments during the commission meeting on Monday, September 26.

A grand Jury returned 89 indictments earlier this month and amongst the formal charges were two former firefighters for the Chapmanville Volunteer Fire Department. Thomas Perry and his son Cody were charged with conspiracy and embezzlement charges.

The Perrys are only the latest of defendants resulting from a special prosecutor from the state Auditor’s Office.

A grand jury last May returned an indictment against Lisa Wimmer in connection to Logan Station Number 2 Fire Department at Man. Wimmer was sentenced to probation and must pay $40,000 in restitution as part of a plea deal.

Charges in the Logan County Magistrate Court indicate the Fire Chief of the Verdunville Volunteer Fire Department, Windell Hunter, allegedly made more than $3,000 in purchases and could not provide documentation the transactions were made for the benefit of the department. Hunter has been charged with concealment or destruction of public record by an officer.

Logan County Prosecuting Attorney David Wandling, acting as the counsel for the commission, recommended an accountant to provide greater oversight for county dollars the commission has earmarked for departments. Wandling said he has no indication of levy money being involved with the allegations, but he said the people of Logan County have a right to know how that money is being spent.

“These fire departments need greater oversight,” Wandling told commissioners, “even if it it’s only temporary. I know we spoke about an accountant being an intermediary between the checks and the individuals receiving this money. Whatever the plan is, it’s my recommendation as your counsel. I think the people of Logan County have a right to know how each and every dollar is spent.”

Moreover, Wandling said his recommendation serves the best interest of both the fire departments and the county commission.

Commissioner Danny Ellis pointed out that the volunteer fire departments do not operate under the county commission, but are private non profit entities.

Ellis said the commission has previously attempted to get departments to sign up with a Certified Public Accountant and said some departments are already doing just that.

“Today,” Ellis said, “We would encourage the rest of you (fire departments) to do so because our plan is we’re going to tighten down on the levy fund. We’re going to make sure that we know that every penny is going to be accounted for to the public.”

Logan County Fire Coordinator Jimmy Porter insists on an audit of levy funds fire departments have already received. Porter has been persistent in his effort to open the books at all of the private designated departments. He even unsuccessfully sued one of the departments in question, Man Number 2, to disclose their finances. Now that department and two others are under a microscope.

“I have continued concerns,” Porter told commissioners. “I have spreadsheets on these fire departments. I have check numbers on these departments of all the funds they have got. It’s in excess $4 million and it’s never been audited.”

The next regular schedule meeting of the county commission is October eleventh.



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