Two, including former chief, sentenced for embezzling from St. Paul's Fire District

Mary Jo Thomas-Delaney (Source: Live 5)
Mary Jo Thomas-Delaney (Source: Live 5)

ST. PAUL, SC (WCSC) - The former St. Paul's fire chief and a Summerville woman were sentenced Tuesday for their roles in a scheme to embezzle funds from the St. Paul's Fire District, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Doc Matthews, 48, was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison. A second defendant, Mary Jo Thomas-Delaney, 68, was sentenced to 14 months, according to First Asst. U.S. Attorney Lance Crick.

Both sentences included three years of supervised release, to follow the respective terms of imprisonment.

Matthews, Thomas-Delaney and Assistant Chief Charles Riddle were charged in December 2016 in a two-count indictment, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. They were convicted following a jury trial in July 2017.

Evidence presented at their trial convinced a jury that from December 2010 through August 2012, Matthews and Thomas-Delaney, along with others, embezzled approximately $215,000.00 from the St. Paul's Fire District, Crick said.

Prosecutors said the group utilized a FEMA grant that had been awarded to the Fire District and was administered by Thomas-Delaney while Matthews served as St. Paul's Fire Chief.  The grant contained funds for grant administration, which was inflated without any authority, then the inflated amounts were shared amongst the defendants, resulting in a total loss of $183,375.00, Crick said.

During the sentencing, current Fire Chief Larry Garvin said the two stole from taxpayers and that the crime hurt the department because they could not hire people or purchase new equipment.

"We can't afford the manpower and hopefully after the first of the year we will have the manpower to do that," Garvin said outside the courthouse. "We have two fire stations that are shut down. We don't have the manpower for them," Garvin said.

The theft involved a $1.6 million federal grant to build a new fire station, according to prosecutors.

Both the FBI and SLED investigated the case at the request of the St. Paul's Fire District Commission after audits showed irregularities.

Riddle pleaded guilty in April to fraud and embezzlement charges. He agreed to testify against  Matthews and Thomas-Delaney.

Each count carried a maximum prison term of ten years, and a fine of up to $250,000.

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