Former treasurer allegedly stole over $75K from fire dept.

Kathy Sue Gwinn allegedly embezzled more than $75,000 meant for new safety gear and employee salaries

By Giuseppe Sabella
The Charleston Gazette

TEAYS VALLEY, W. Va. — A former member of the Teays Valley Volunteer Fire Department was charged on Monday after she allegedly stole thousands in federal grant money.

Kathy Sue Gwinn, of Hurricane, had been the department's treasurer and payroll clerk since at least 2012, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

She allegedly embezzled more than $75,000 meant for new safety gear and employee salaries.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency deposited more than $900,000 in the fire department's bank account since 2014, the year money started to disappear, according to the complaint.

FEMA awarded the grants for new cardiac monitors and other gear. Several grants were also awarded to help the department maintain quality firefighters.

The federal agency reimbursed the Teays Valley VFD for payroll every three weeks, allowing it to pay firefighters.

According to the complaint, Gwinn worked at home when she calculated payroll. She was tasked with logging the firefighters' hours into a computer and signing their paychecks.

Gwinn allegedly printed and signed checks of her own. She then deposited the money into her personal checking account, the complaint states.

The complaint accuses Gwinn of stealing from a program that receives federal funds. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison.

Teays Valley VFD Chief John Smoot referred all questions to the department's attorney, Ben Freeman, who was not immediately available for comment.

Copyright 2017 The Charleston Gazette

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