KINGMAN – Two board members and the fire chief of Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District pleaded not guilty to charges of conflict of interest and misuse of public funds during their arraignment Monday before Superior Court Judge Rick Lambert, with the next hearing set for Aug. 7.
The conflict centers around mechanical work performed on one of the district’s fire trucks at board member Vic Riccardi’s automotive repair shop in Valle Vista.
Sue Wilkin, clerk of the board, issued a $1,357 check for the work, and interim Fire Chief Wayne Eder signed off on it without board approval.
All three were indicted July 3 on conflict of interest and misuse of public funds, both felonies and punishable by up to 45 months in prison.
“None of the accusations are true,” Riccardi said in an interview outside of the courthouse. “I don’t know what they’re trying to prove.”
Riccardi, former fire chief of Valle Vista Fire District, said he was asked to find the source of an oil leak on a truck that he designed and built in Spokane, Washington.
“I know this truck inside and out,” he said. “So now everyone’s saying it was an engine or transmission leak. There’s all kinds of leaks. All of a sudden, everyone became a master mechanic.”
It took three days of power-washing dirt and grease off the underside of the truck to find the leak, which was eventually diagnosed as coming from the high-pressure diesel fuel injection system, Riccardi said.
The truck had to be repaired by Fire Trucks Unlimited in Henderson, Nevada.
Riccardi said he owns the building for the automotive repair shop in Valle Vista, but his son and nephew run the business. The check was deposited into the business account, he added.
Riccardi said he had “no idea” about a monetary limit on fire truck repairs before they have to go out for bid proposals.
“I’m caught in the middle of it,” he said. “What do you do?”