Barth suspended after claims of misappropriated funds

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by Rachel Nix

WHAS11.com

Posted on December 1, 2009 at 7:34 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 1 at 7:34 PM

The longtime and high profile fire chief of the McMahan Volunteer Fire Department has been suspended without pay.

At a meeting of the fire district's board of trustees last Tuesday night, the board members suspended Paul Barth pending an independent investigation by a CPA of the misappropriation of funds.

Paul Barth is suspended without pay and it takes several pages to outline the fire board's charges.

Among them, improperly using fire department equipment and on-duty firefighters to do personal work and to appear at community events, sometimes leaving the department unmanned.

Also, that he withheld financial information from the board, did not pay department bills in a timely manner and used a fire department tax ID to avoid paying taxes for work on his truck.

We've also obtained a response sent by Barth to the fire board.

He says he paid taxes for work on his truck, and that the auto shop admitted a paperwork mistake.
 
He apologized for some bills being paid late but said some of them were being disputed, and that's why they weren't paid.

And he defended using firefighters at community events, saying it's good for recruiting and the district's public image and that neighboring districts covered McMahan whenever necessary during those times.

Barth is also the Vice President of the Jefferson County Fire Chief's Association.

Monday, WHAS11 spoke to Barth’s personal attorney. He says Barth has no intention of resigning.

Barth's attorney Charlie Ricketts told WHAS11 that, ""it's all about politics, and that he is tickled to death they're getting a CPA.  That should have been done a long time ago."

Ricketts added, "To know Paul Barth and to know the Class-A person he is you have to wonder what are they trying to do to this man and for what reason."  He said from what he's seen there is no misappropriation of funds but there is "a lot of sloppy stuff."

Mike Schmidt, who is Fern Creek Fire Chief and President of Jefferson County Fire Cheif's Association, told WHAS11, "They will wait and see what the investigation finds. They will support Barth as much as they can."

The board appointed Joe Johnson as the McMahan acting chief. They will also hold a hearing for Barth on Dec. 7 at 6:00 at the fire house.

Paul Barth is currently the Chairman of the Board of the WHAS Crusade for Children.  The Crusade is a 501-C3 charitable organization that operates independantly of WHAS, but is supported by WHAS-TV and WHAS Radio.  The Crusade is run by a CEO, Dawn Lee.

Read the full report of allegations

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