Local fire chiefs react to Paul Barth Indictment


by WHAS11


Posted on April 6, 2010 at 12:21 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 6 at 7:27 AM

(WHAS11) – On Monday, April 5, it was announced that a federal grand jury indicted former McMahan Fire Chief Paul Barth on 16 charges.

Prosecutors say Barth took more than $200,000 dollars, much of it meant for the WHAS Crusade for Children.

When the investigation into all of this started, Paul Barth was McMahan Fire Chief, and the chairman of the board for WHAS Crusade for Children. Since then, he’s left the fire department and was removed from the Crusade board.

The Crusade has now made changes.  But local fire chiefs who spoke to WHAS11 say they don't want the community to lose faith in their local fire departments.

WHAS11’s Anna Prendergast has more on what they're saying.

Word spread quickly after former McMahan Fire Chief, Paul Barth, was charged with embezzling and laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Lyndon's fire chief, Russ Rakestraw, calls the situation sad and knows it's hurt the community's trust.

“The bad part is often we all get painted in the same brush,” he says. “It’s a very sad situation.”

Paul Johnson works with the Secret Service, the main agency involved in Barth’s investigation.

He says Barth set up a bank account under the name “Crusade for Children,” and that $218,000 that people had donated was put into that account instead of being turned over to the charity.

Johnson says Barth also stole $97,000 from the McMahan Fire District, including using the fire department’s credit card to pay $10,000 for his car taxes and issuing an additional 13 paychecks to himself.

The Crusade charity officials say they’ve already put new procedures in place to prevent this from happening again.

As for the local fire departments,  Chief Rakestraw seems to speak for them. He says he wants people in the community to try and forget, and he hopes that people’s faith in their local fire departments will return.

The Secret Service tell WHAS11 they expect Paul Barth to turn himself in on Tuesday, April 6.