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Pratt caught in Boone County inquiry

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An embezzlement case in Boone County has now spilled over into Pratt.

The attorney for Andrea Kinder, 34, of Madison, has subpoenaed financial records from Pratt. Kinder has been charged with embezzling more than $105,000 from the Southern Public Service District Company in Madison.

Kinder was an administrative assistant at the company who was responsible for collecting customer payments.

Southern Public Service District is a gas company in Boone County.

She has never worked for Pratt, Mayor Gary Fields said. But she did work for Fields when he was division manager for Southern Public Service District Company, he said.

Fields believes she is trying to implicate him in the embezzlement case.

"I've been told she's trying to point the finger at me," he said. "And I think that's a crock of crap." 

Fields denies he took any funds while working at the company. He worked for Southern Public Service District for 40 years before retiring in 2011.

"That company was good to me," he said.

The number listed for Kinder in the phone book had been disconnected. Her attorney, Matthew Hatfield of Madison, was unavailable for comment.

Hatfield subpoenaed the records from Pratt. He is seeking records dealing with the money withheld from Pratt employee checks that was not paid to the Internal Revenue Service, according to the subpoena.

The money was withheld but not paid to the IRS from Jan. 1, 2008, until Dec. 30, 2011, according to the subpoena. 

The town still owes about $100,000 to the IRS for taxes that were withheld from employee checks but were not paid to the federal agency.

The town will use funds from the sale of its water works to West Virginia American Water to pay off the debt, Fields said.

At one time, the IRS had filed a $140,000 tax lien on the city for the debt.

Fields does not believe the situation that has arisen from the Boone County case will jeopardize the sale of the town's water company to West Virginia American Water.

"That case in Boone County just doesn't have anything to do with Pratt," he said.

The subpoena was also sent to the Kanawha County Commission. Pratt and the commission were both subpoenaed on Wednesday afternoon.

Commission President Kent Carper said the county will provide any and all records dealing with the Pratt debt to the attorneys involved in the case.

"All of our records are public records," Carper said.

Carper has instructed county staff to gather records on the matter to provide to the attorneys, he said. 

Pratt officials also will not balk at providing financial records to the attorneys involved in the case, Fields said.

Carper declined to comment on the embezzlement case or the subpoena for records, saying it would be "inappropriate."

Fields has been mayor of Pratt two separate occasions.

He was mayor from 1989 until 1993. He was again elected mayor in 2009 and has served going on four years. He is seeking re-election this summer.

Kinder was indicted for the embezzlement charge in January. 

Kinder's trial date has not been set. She is currently out on a $10,000 bond.       

Contact writer Paul Fallon at paul.fallon@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817. Follow him at www.twitter.com/PaulBFallon. 

 


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