New conflict of interest accusations fly at NACFD meeting
KINGMAN – Amid one board member pleading guilty, and another with the fire chief facing misuse of public funds and conflict of interest charges, more accusations flew at Thursday’s Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District Board of Directors meeting.
Board member Vic Riccardi pled guilty last week to felony charges of conflict of interest and misuse of funds and has been ordered by the court not to participate as a board member until his sentencing Feb. 20. It is expected he’ll be ordered to resign from the board.
Board member Sue Wilkin and Fire Chief Wayne Eder continue to look for resolution in their cases surrounding a payment of $1,357 by NACFD for mechanical work performed on one of the district’s fire trucks at Riccardi’s automotive repair shop in Valle Vista.
During the Call to the Public segment of Thursday’s meeting, Anthony Garnica, a private citizen, brought attention to the fact that checks have been written by NACFD for payments to True Value in Kingman. Complaints to the Mohave County Attorney’s Office and the Arizona Attorney General’s office claim current board members Mike Collins and Jim Bailey were in violation of conflict of interest, conspiracy, and misuse of public funds laws when they co-signed the checks with former NACFD Fire Chief Patrick Moore.
“I’d love for this to be investigated,” Collins told the Daily Miner Friday. “NACFD has had an account with True Value since way before Pat Moore.”
Moore served as fire chief from 2008-2016.
The complaints purport to link Collins, Bailey, and Moore to inappropriate payments to True Value because Moore’s wife’s uncle, Paul Shuffler, is the principle owner of BPJ&S LLC, which owns True Value.
Arizona Statute 38-503 does state “any public officer or employee of a public agency who has, or whose relative has, a substantial interest in any contract, sale, purchase or service to such public agency shall make known that interest in the official records of such public agency and shall refrain from voting upon or otherwise participating in any manner as an officer or employee in such contract, sale or purchase.”
NACFD officials told the Daily Miner there is no record of Moore making the district known of his relationship to Shuffler.
Now that Riccardi isn’t voting with the board, political infighting seems to be stalling some of the district’s business. Collins motioned at the meeting to appoint Bailey as the new chair as Patti Lewis’ term is ending. Collins and Bailey voted yes, while Lewis and Wilkin voted no and/or abstained during a confusing vote. The motion to name Bailey was then tabled to next month’s meeting.
The board did approve the annexation of three Valle Vista properties into the district, the November and December financials, and giving the authority to Eder to collect donations as part of celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the Chloride Fire District.