Irregularities in Crusade account of former fire chief discovered


by Adam Walser

Posted on January 24, 2010 at 10:05 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 26 at 3:19 PM

There is new information involving the investigation of former McMahan Fire Chief Paul Barth.

As the U.S. Secret Service looks over his records, WHAS11’s Adam Walser was going through Barth’s accounts, too.

Crusade officials say it's unusual for a fire department to set up a separate Crusade account.

Normally, money collected on behalf of the Crusade is forwarded directly to their office.

But for the past 2 decades, Chief Paul Barth has put money into that separate account, an account that Crusade officials say they've never seen a check from, but which handled tens-of-thousands of dollars a year.

When money came in from the McMahan Fire Department, most of it ended up at the Crusade office, going to benefit programs for children with special needs.

But we've learned that nearly $40,000 dollars a year ended up in the McMahan Crusade for Children account.

During the two years we've obtained records for, we discovered that more than $27,000 went to pay back the McMahan Fire Department for personal charges Barth put on his department issued credit card.

That included vacations to SeaWorld, charges on board a Disney cruise and a stay at the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando.

The most significant charges involved $15,000 in back taxes for a Florida condo and $10,000 in taxes owned on 10 cars.

We also found withdrawals of more than $19,000 in cash withdrawals from the Crusade account in two years and checks totaling $30,000 made out to the McMahan Fire Department.

We've learned from sources that the money was used to pay back the department for two solicitation mass mailings from L&D Mail Masters.
The original bills were reportedly paid from the department's general funds, which comes from taxpayers.

The Secret Service is investigating all of the suspicious financial transactions.

We've learned that Barth was having significant personal financial problems for years.

More than $35,000 is still  owned for 2007-2009 taxes on the Florida condo.

An $8,500 lien was placed on his half-million dollar home.

And another lien was filed on a house, which Barth co-owns with his elderly mother who still lives here. A company was hired to fix a leak in the roof, but Barth never paid.

Yet Barth managed to buy a new Corvette worth $61,000 from Bachman Chevrolet less than two months after Crusade.

That year, McMahan Crusade donations were down $55,000 from the year before.

We have repeatedly tried to talk to Barth about the financial  irregularities.

Since Barth officially retired from the fire department Friday, he won't have to answer to the board as originally scheduled Monday.
But board members suspect he'll soon have to answer to the U.S. Secret Service.

We've learned that the Secret Service has spoken with several board members and employees so far and has seized boxes full of documents.

Barth has not been charged with a crime, but was removed last week as chairman of the Crusade board of directors.