The interim chief and two governing board members of the politically volatile Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District have been indicted by a Mohave County Grand Jury. Chief Wayne Eder, board member Victor Riccardi and board clerk Sue Wilkin are each charged with misuse of public monies and conflict of interest, felony criminal offenses.
Though the indictments were handed down Thursday, Riccardi and Wilkin were served copies of the paperwork and a court summons on Friday, June 30. Eder was served Monday, July 3.
All three defendants have been directed to appear for arraignment in Mohave County Superior Court on July 17.
The indictments follow a county attorney’s office investigation after it was revealed in a public board meeting that Riccardi accepted work at his auto repair shop to fix a truck owned by the District. Eder freely admitted he awarded the job to Riccardi because Riccardi was familiar with the vehicle and because the rig was broke down closer to Riccardi’s shop than anywhere else it might be repaired.
“Isn’t that a conflict?”, member Mike Collins asked attorney Bill Whittington at the board meeting in May. Whittington declined to answer on the spot and said he would address the board in executive session.
It was subsequently learned that Collins was questioning whether it was legal for Riccardi to be awarded and accept business from the district and its interim fire chief without knowledge or conflict waiver approval by the full board. This also occurred while Eder was hoping for Board support to promote him to fulltime chief.
In her recent letter of resignation from her administrative secretary position with the fire district, Lynne Hucker revealed that Wilkin allegedly brought the Riccardi invoice to the fire station and took the payment check back to Riccardi, with Eder’s knowledge and involvement.
Hucker complained that Riccardi’s bill for $1,357.57 was mostly for labor and changing an air filter. She pointed out that the truck was not fixed and had to be taken to another repair shop.
Riccardi did not respond to an email seeking comment. Wilkin and Eder responded, but declined comment initially.
A special budget meeting of the NACFD board is set Thursday, July 6.