8/19/2013 4:54 PM
by Karen Franklin
SMITHERS - The former chief of a Fayette County volunteer fire department will spend at least a year in jail after pleading guilty this week to embezzlement.
The Fayette County Prosecutor's Office said Timothy Whittington used the Smithers Volunteer Fire Department account as his own personal bank account, stealing as much as $7,500 over a two-year period.
"This was not the case of a mistake or an accident," Asst. Prosecuting Attorney Roger Lambert said. "This was clearly the case of intentional use of public funds to pay his own personal bills."
Officials told Newswatch Whittington used the money to pay a monthly car bill, make car insurance payments and pay a home water bill. His wife, Patricia Whittington, previously faced a charge of obtaining funds by fraudulent pretenses, but her case was dismissed.
"That wasn't his money," Lambert said. "It was the taxpayers' money. It was your money, my money. Anytime anyone abuses their position in a public agency and abuses the public's trust, we have to take a firm stance against that, and we're glad that he's decided to take responsibility for that crime and has pled guilty."
Whittington is scheduled to be sentence Sept. 30. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
"He just sort of got in over his head financially, and instead of using legal means to deal with that, he decided to use the public taxpayers' money, and he broke the law."