SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. — Four current and former Richwood city officials asked for and were granted more time to prepare for criminal cases against them in court proceedings Thursday in Summersville.
Following an audit by the office of state Auditor J.B. McCuskey, Mayor Chris Drennen, former Mayor Bob Henry Baber and former City Recorder Abby McClung were charged with misusing federal flood recovering money. Former police chief Lloyd Allen Cogar is accused of mishandling his state-issued purchasing card. Drennen, McClung and Cogar were arraigned March 29, Baber appeared before a magistrate last week.
All four agreed Thursday to waive the 10-day preliminary hearing schedule requirement. Each will be given a new preliminary hearing date.
The audit alleges some of Richwood’s leaders put thousands of dollars of grant money into their own pockets by hiring themselves, friends or family members for paid flood-relief positions.
“Despite the influx of nearly $3.1 million from FEMA to assist the City of Richwood’s recovery from the devastating floods of June 23, 2016, greed, incompetence and total lack of fiscal management have left Richwood on the brink of bankruptcy,” McCuskey said at a March 29 news conference in Richwood.
Many of the same leaders failed to keep track of finances or of purchases made using federal flood dollars, resulting in “complete financial disarray,” the report also concludes.
Richwood council members held an emergency meeting hours after the audit report was released and voted to fire Cogar and urge Drennen to resign. Council changed its mind about Drennen in a meeting last week and she plans to stay on as mayor. Cogar told reporters Thursday he still considers himself police chief.