San Angelo, Texas — While polygamous sect prophet Warren Jeffs settles into his life prison sentence in Texas for sexually assaulting two underage girls, law enforcement officials continue applying pressure against alleged corruption in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah, where the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is based.
A 30-count criminal indictment returned by a Mohave County Superior Court Jury Aug. 4 in Kingman, Ariz., alleges misappropriation of public funds by Colorado City Fire District Chief Jacob Barlow. Three counts are for participating or assisting in a criminal syndicate while the other 27 charges are for "violating the duties of a custodian of public monies."
Another man charged in portions of the Aug. 4 indictment is unnamed because he has not been served or arrested.
Deputy Mohave County attorney James Schoppmann said the investigation began in January 2008 after a manager of a restaurant in St. George, Utah, reported that Barlow, 55, used a fire district credit card to purchase lunch for his wife. The probe led to searches of fire stations in Arizona and Utah in April 2010 as well as the homes of Barlow and David Darger, the Colorado City town manager who also was serving as fire district treasurer/secretary at the time.
An affidavit for the search warrants indicated authorities were investigating alleged misuse of fire district credit cards and funds for computer equipment, travel, motels, meals, groceries and furniture. Boxes of evidence seized during the unwelcome raids were transported to Kingman, where Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith said it would take months to review to determine whether charges would be filed.
The indictment earlier this month alleges that sums of fire district funds, from as little as $8,000 to as much as $38,000, were illegally transferred into traditional bank accounts.
Barlow is expected to be arraigned in Kingman early next week. His attorney, Tucson defense lawyer Mike Piccarreta, was not immediately available for comment.
Piccarreta cried foul at the time of the April 2010 searches, contending heavy-handed Mohave County law enforcement officials were conducting a fishing expedition. Piccarreta defended Jeffs in Mohave County before prosecutors dismissed their Arizona criminal case last year.