FLOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The Kentucky State Auditor is now investigating a second fire department in Floyd County for possible irregular spending.
That fire department is the Allen Volunteer Fire Department.
Stephenie Steitzer, a spokesperson for the Auditor’s office, tells WSAZ.com that in June the auditor's office received an email complaint about the department from a citizen.
Steitzer says the office then requested some preliminary information from the department.
Since then, both the Fire Chief Roy Compton and Assistant Chief Larry Castle have resigned and a new tax board has been created, according to the Floyd County times.
Just a few weeks ago, the Kentucky State Auditor found that the Garrett Area Volunteer Fire Department had $123,000 in questionable expenditures, hundreds of pornographic videos on department electronics and numerous financial management and oversight problems.
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Terry Triplett, the former assistant chief of the Garrett Volunteer Fire Department, disappeared in March.
An investigation by Kentucky State Police found he wasn't missing or dead. The county attorney says, however, that Triplett had run off with two women who had been using him for money and drugs.
And some of that money had come from the fire department.
A state audit found Triplett spent $123,000 on electronics, gift cards, dinners -- even a car. Investigators also found 800 pornographic videos on a department-owned computer Triplett kept at his home.
Floyd County Attorney Keith Bartley says the smoking gun for his office came when they began sifting through about 800 text messages.
“There was conversations about drugs, conversations about sex, conversations that laid out their plans to go west,” Bartley said.
Bartley says Triplett was last traced to Nevada.
Although Bartley says Triplett is the only person from Garrett that is implicated in all this, the community is already feeling the effects.
Darrell Pratt helped start the fire department decades ago.
“We started discussing it,” Pratt said. “How come we don't have some sort of a fire rescue? Here we are, we got the numbers ... But we got nothing to work with ... No organization.”
Unfortunately, the auditor's report has caused the fire department to lose its tax exempt status.
Darrell says he doesn't know if it will be able to survive. If that happens, there could be more than just safety implications.
Insurance rates could go up for the community.
Bartley expects the case to go to the grand jury for indictments on multiple charges.
Meanwhile, Triplett remains on the run.
State Auditor Adam Edelen released the report on Garrett Fire District and Garrett Area Volunteer Fire Department on Tuesday.
The auditor’s office performed the exam in cooperation with the Kentucky State Police.
The exam traced expenditures of the former assistant chief, Terry Triplett, who was also the treasurer according to the Associated Press. The former assistant chief/treasurer was reported as a missing person in March before it was learned that he had unexpectedly left the state, according to a press release from the Auditor.
“The magnitude of abuse at such a small fire department is shocking,” Edelen said. “Taxpayers in Floyd County ought to be outraged that one individual appears to have used fire department resources on everything from televisions to chewing tobacco and pornography.”
The exam, prompted by concerns from the Garrett Fire District Board of Trustees and the Department chief, contains 17 findings and 72 recommendations.
Among other expenditures, auditors identified more than $62,000 in questionable cash withdrawals, $16,500 in restaurant charges, $4,600 in shopping gift cards from one store and $839 on fireworks.
The exam found the former assistant chief purchased a vehicle with department funds and opened a store credit card in the department’s name without authorization from the board. Two flat-screen televisions, a laptop computer, digital camera, personal care items, alcohol, chewing tobacco and purchases made-out-of-state were charged to the card and paid for with department funds. All the electronics are missing.
The exam also found the former assistant chief paid himself more than $8,000 without approval. On at least three occasions, payments made to the district or department totaling $4,000 were not deposited.
Over 800 pornographic videos were also found on a department computer, external drive and USB, according to the report.
“Time and again my office finds lack of proper board oversight is the real culprit when taxpayer dollars are abused,” Edelen said. “I applaud the Garrett fire district board for coming forward with its concerns and implore those who serve on boards -- from big school districts to tiny fire districts -- to know their responsibilities and take them seriously.”
False financial reporting was provided to the district board and department and various financial records were missing. The district also did not obtain required financial statement audits or submit required financial reports to the state Department for Local Government or IRS. As a result, it lost its tax-exempt status.