Morven Fire Chief Mark Holloway is under investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation, the Attorney General's office confirmed on Friday.
“I can confirm that SBI agents are investigating allegations of embezzlement of funds from the Morven Fire Department by Chief Mark Holloway,” said the Attorney General's public information officer, Noelle Talley. “The investigation was opened in May at the request of the local District Attorney.”
Neither the District Attorney's Office nor Holloway could be reached for comment on Friday, but former Morven firefighter Joe Tarlton and Morven Town Councilman Ronnie Gathings first brought the matter to public attention.
Gathings is the former president of the fire department's board of directors, and said he went to County Commissioner Ross Streater with his concerns about how Holloway was handling the fire department's funds. Streater then referred the case to the District Attorney's office.
“It's a pretty sad state of affairs,” Gathings said. “Our community needs good men — caring men — and we seem to be losing those.”
Tarlton first became concerned about Holloway's handling of the fire department's funds when Holloway's fuel costs exceeded $700 in a month, despite the fact that the Morven Fire Department only receives an average of four to five calls a month.
“In less than 24 hours, he used hundreds of gallons of fuel,” Tarlton said.
According to paperwork Tarlton provided to The Anson Record, once the fire department's board voted to restrict Holloway's fuel reimbursement, costs went down to a little over $200 a month.
Tarlton was suspended by Holloway from the fire department, and Gathings said he resigned from the board shortly thereafter. “He has put his own board members in now,” Tarlton said.
In addition, the Morven Town Council donated $500 to the fire department, and that check has yet to be deposited into the fire department's fund, Gathings said. “The check has been cashed but not deposited in to the Morven Volunteer Fire Department fund.”
Tarlton said that while he was on the fire department, Holloway never reported the earnings of the department's bi-annual barbecues. “He would always say 'we broke even,'” Tarlton said. “He never gave us any hard numbers of how much money we made.”
The Anson Record will continue to follow this story as it develops.