MORVEN — Fire Chief Mark Holloway is the subject of a State Bureau of Investigation probe, the attorney general’s office says.
“I can confirm that SBI agents are investigating allegations of embezzlement of funds from the Morven Fire Department by Chief Mark Holloway,” N.C. Department of Justice spokeswoman Noelle Talley said Friday. “The investigation was opened in May at the request of the local district attorney.”
Neither the district attorney’s office nor Holloway could be reached for comment, but former Morven firefighter Joe Tarlton and Morven Town Councilman Ronnie Gathings first brought the matter to public attention.
Gathings is the former president of the Morven Fire Department’s board of directors, and he said he went to Anson County Commissioner Ross Streater with his concerns about how Holloway was handling the volunteer fire department’s funds. Streater then referred the case to the district attorney’s office, according to Gathings.
“It’s a pretty sad state of affairs,” Gathings said. “Our community needs good men — caring men — and we seem to be losing those.”
Tarlton said he first became concerned about Holloway’s handling of the fire department’s funds when Holloway’s fuel costs exceeded $700 in a month, despite the fact that the Morven Fire Department only receives an average of four to five monthly calls.
“In less than 24 hours, he filled up twice,” Tarlton said.
According to records Tarlton provided, once the fire department’s board voted to restrict Holloway’s fuel reimbursement, costs went down to a little more than $200 a month.
Tarlton said Holloway suspended him from the fire department. Gathings said he resigned from the board shortly thereafter.
“He has put his own board members in now,” Tarlton said.
In addition, the Morven Town Council donated $500 to the fire department, and that check has yet to be deposited into the fire department’s fund, Gathings contends.
“The check has been cashed but not deposited in to the Morven Volunteer Fire Department fund,” he said.
Tarlton said that while he was serving on the volunteer fire department, Holloway never reported the earnings of the department’s biannual barbecues.
“He would always say ‘We broke even,’” Tarlton said. “He never gave us any hard numbers of how much money we made.”