ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - The chief of the Kinloch Fire Protection District pleaded guilty Wednesday to using district money without authorization.
Chief Darran Kelley was accused in April 2013 of the unauthorized use of more than $140,000 between January 2007 and January 11, 2013. He was also charged with making a false statement connected to his receipt of Social Security disability payments, and three felony counts of wire fraud.
The indictment had alleged the district had a bank account for the receipt and disbursement of district money. The district received around $160,361 in tax revenue from St. Louis County, which was distributed by the City of Kinloch to the bank account for payroll and operations.
Kelley, 47, was accused of participating in a scheme in which he made unauthorized cash withdrawals from the account for personal use, including purchasing various personal items and gambling, as well as transferring money from the district bank account to make payments on his personal credit card.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awarded the district $237,500 in June 2010 to cover 95 percent of the total cost of a fire engine, based on an application Kelley submitted. The City of Kinloch chipped in $15,000 of city funds to cover the district's responsibility of paying five percent of the cost. According to the indictment, some of that money was later used by Kelley for personal items and gambling.
In April 2011, the district was unable to pay the insurance premium on the new fire engine, which was reported to be around $2,322. Private citizens made donations to the district, which exceeded the amount needed to pay the premium. Kelley is accused of taking the leftover money, depositing it into the district bank account, and then later using it to pay for personal items and gambling.
During the alleged incidents, the district had outstanding bills from Ameren, American Water, AT&T, and North Central County Fire Alarm System for dispatch services. Some of these bills went unpaid, and some services were reduced or cut off.
Kelley has been fire chief since 2002. The indictment states that on August 15, 2000 he started receiving monthly disability payments from the Social Security Administration for a personal medical condition. He was ordered to immediately report and work and income to verify his continued disability, but the indictment states he failed to report his work for the fire department and made a false statement July 26, 2011 on his Continuing Disability Review Report.
Darran Kelley will be sentenced October 16. Each count of wire fraud carries a 20-year prison sentence and fines up to $250,000, theft from a federal program carries a maximum of 10 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000, and making false statements about disability payments carries a sentence up to five years in prison and fines up to $250,000.