Transfers of large sums of money focus of probe

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Allegations of transfers of large sums of money from the fire department's business account to traditional banking accounts and use of fire district credit cards to purchase groceries, restaurant meals, furniture, candy and gift certificates has triggered an investigation in Colorado City.

The questionable accounting practice and expenditures are outlined in an affidavit of probable cause for search warrants served Tuesday in five locations in Colorado City and another just across the Utah border in Hildale.

Some two dozen law enforcement officers and support personnel conducted searches at four fire stations and at the personal residences of Colorado City Fire District Chief Jake Barlow and David Darger, the Secretary/Treasurer of the Fire Department who also serves as Colorado City Manager.

Authorities rented a U-Haul to transport back to Kingman boxes of evidence seized in the search that are now stored at the Mohave County attorney's office there.

County Attorney Matt Smith said it will take weeks to process the evidence to determine whether criminal charges will be filed.

Barlow's attorney, Mike Piccarreta, said the show of force and the searches were unnecessary.

"All the county had to do was send a request over and they'd get all the documents that they want; ask to talk to the people involved and the people would cooperate and they wouldn't have to bring an armada of people to get it done," Piccarreta said.

He said there are reasonable explanations for all of the expenditures and that the whole matter is more a miscommunication than a criminal case.