UPDATE: NICHOLAS COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – Four current and former Richwood officials waive their preliminary hearings, after facing charges of misusing 2016 flood money.
Former Mayor Robert “Bob” Henry Baber, current Richwood Mayor Chris Drennen, Richwood Police Chief Lloyd Allen Cogar, and former clerk Abigail McClung were charged for misusing 2016 flooding funds
Richwood City Council initially wanted the mayor, Chris Drennan, to resign, but has since reversed their decision and is now wanting her to stay.
Richwood City Council has voted twice to fire Police Chief, Lloyd Allen Cogar, but he tells WCHS-TV that he is still the town’s police chief because he works directly for the mayor.
UPDATE: NICHOLAS COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – Former Richwood Mayor Bob Baber turned himself into authorities today after being indicted on charges for misusing 2016 flood money.
Former Mayor Robert “Bob” Henry Baber is facing charges of embezzlement and fraudulent or unauthorized use of a purchasing card. Between July 1, 2016, and July 20, 2018, Baber served as the elected Mayor for the city of Richwood, until he was removed from office. During that time, Mr. Baber was issued a Local Government Purchase Card. A forensic audit revealed that he utilized his issued purchasing card for 86 transactions totaling $6,245.17, many of which were not approved or authorized by City Council. Of those 86 transactions, there were 24 transactions for which no receipt or invoice was provided, and at least 33 of which appear to have been personal in nature.
Mr. Baber admitted to giving his purchasing card to other people to use on at least 19 separate occasions.
On April 27, 2017, then-Mayor Baber issued himself a Richwood City check for $2,640 claiming work done during the two week pay period ending on July 8, 2016. Effectively, he paid himself for volunteer flood work that was done the week prior to him becoming Mayor, and his first week in office as Mayor of Richwood, abusing his authority and converting Richwood City money for his own use.
UPDATE: NICHOLAS COUNTY, WV (WCHS/WOAY) – Three people have been arrested and charged for misusing 2016 flood money.
WCHS REPORTS Richwood Mayor Chris Drennen, Richwood Police Chief Lloyd Allen Cogar and former clerk Abigail McClung have been charged and made appearances Friday in Nicholas County Magistrate Court, where they were released on personal recognizance bonds.
A criminal complaint filed in Nicholas County Magistrate Court said Drennen faces an embezzlement charge.
Drennen was elected as recorder for the city June 14, 2016, and took office July 1 of that year. She oversaw the finances and records of the town, including serving as chair of the city’s finance committee. She also had authority over city paychecks, and as recorder she was entitled to a monthly salary of about $400 a month.
Following the flood that caused extensive damage in Richwood, Drennen volunteered with numerous individuals to help the city recover. The complaint said she was paid more than $1,300 for overtime she claimed to have worked as an employee.
On July 18, 2016, the complaint said, Drennen deemed herself to be a member of another group of volunteers that had been formed to organize the city’s flood recovery. The group, known as the Incident Command Structure Team, was headed up by two individuals, Jeromy Rose and Jon Cox. Drennen, Rose and Cox all paid themselves as employees of the city and set their own hourly rate, the complaint said. Drennen set her rate at $30 per hour.
Drennen was paid again as an employee on July 28, 2016, and continued to be paid as an employee until Jan. 9, 2017.
Overall, she was paid a total of more than $45,000 as an employee of the city of Richwood, the complaint said. The amount was paid separately and in addition to her monthly recorder pay. The complaint said Drennen signed many of these checks to herself.
The complaint said by paying herself as an employee without council approval, Drennen appropriate money for her own personal use in violation of state code.
Drennen made a comment to media, saying she is innocent of the charges.
“Any pay that I received, council was very well aware of, and that is what I’m being accused of,” Drennen said. “All of this will be brought to light and I feel confident that I will be cleared.”
Meanwhile, a criminal complaint said Cogar has been charged with fraudulent or unauthorized use of a purchasing card and embezzlement.
The complaint said on Feb. 23, 2015, Cogar was working as the chief and was issued two local government purchase cards and was required to sign the West Virginia local government purdchasing cardholder agreement for the cards.
From August 2015 through May 2017, Cogar made at least 10 separate purchases in and around the city of Richwood with his local government purchasing cards totaling $527.15. The charges appeared to be personal in nature and lacked the supporting documentation, contrary to the purchasing cardholder agreement, the complaint said.
The complaint said Cogar also used his purchasing cards between July 2015 and June 2017 to buy tires and services in excess of $2,000 for Richwood city vehicles at his personally owned tire business, Allen’s Discount Tire store, financially benefiting himself.
In McClung’s case, a criminal complaint said said she is charged with computer fraud and embezzlement.
The complaint said during the calendar year of 2017 and several before that McClung was employed as a clerk for the city of Richwood. As part of her responsibilities, she was responsible for reporting of employee tax withholdings and employee contributions to state and federal entities. A forensic audit determined that those obligations were not being met.
State Police said McClung during an interview acknowledged that she falsified tax forms to indicate that withholdings had been remitted, when they had not been to the Internal Revenue Service and the state Tax Department. McClung used a computer to create the tax forms. She told investigators the false figures were then transmitted by computer network to state and federal tax officials in violation of state code, the complaint said.
McClung, before she left the city as an employee in October 2017, issued herself a check for 208 hours of vacation time, the complaint said. Richwood employees are not entitled to payouts of unused vacation time. The complaint said the amount of vacation time also appears falsified and exceeds the amount allotted to any full-time employee in the city. McClung received a $3,120 check from the city after she left, in violation of state code.
West Virginia Auditor John McCuskey announced he is holding a news conference at 2:30 p.m. Friday to announce the investigative findings that relate to government response to the flood.
NICHOLAS COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – On Friday March 29th, 2019, the West Virginia Police are currently making arrests regarding an investigation misusing funds during the 2016 flood recovery.
The Nicholas County Sheriff’s Department will assist with any efforts needed during the continuing investigation.
A press release and informational conference is scheduled for 2pm today at Richwood City Hall. Present will be the Nicholas County Prosecuting Attorney Jonathan C. Sweeney and the West Virginia State Auditors Office.
Individuals in the community are encouraged to attended.
Stay with WOAY News on this developing story.