State Auditor: Rampant Abuse Of Tax Dollars In Garrett Fire District

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Money Burning

State Auditor Adam Edelen on Tuesday released a special examination of the Garrett Fire District and Garret Area Volunteer Fire Department in Floyd County, finding more than $123,000 in questionable expenditures, hundreds of pornographic videos on department electronics and numerous financial management and oversight problems.

The auditor’s office performed the exam in cooperation with the Kentucky State Police. The exam has been referred to KSP.

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The former assistant chief/treasurer was reported as a missing person in March before it was learned that he had unexpectedly left the state.

“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.

“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.”

The exam 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 found on a department computer, external drive and USB drive.

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.

To review the audit’s findings, click here.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.