Richwood mayor accused of taking flood relief money

RICHWOOD, W.Va. (AP) — A mayor in West Virginia is accused of taking federal flood relief funds intended for her city and paying herself extra money for working with a flood recovery team.

Richwood Mayor Chris Drennen was indicted on federal felony charges Monday following a probe into her time as a recorder for the city during a flood in 2016, news outlets reported.

Drennan came under scrutiny as state investigators looked into the misuse of more than $3 million in flood relief to the city, WCHS-TV reported.

The indictment alleges that Drennen was paid for working with recovery team even before the group existed and after it was disbanded.

“Drennen and the Incident Command Team’s excessive payments to themselves and their family members inhibited the City of Richwood from recovering from the flood to the benefit of herself and others,” the indictment said.

Drennen was initially arrested last year for an embezzlement charge, but not indicted in that case.

She now faces two counts of obtaining money by false pretenses and one count of fraudulent scheme. If convicted, she could face up to 30 years in prison. It was not immediately clear if she had a lawyer who could comment on her behalf.

Nicholas County prosecutor Jonathan Sweeney described the charges against the mayor as just the “beginning,” and said charges against others are possible as well.

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