Minden Press-Herald

Oct 02nd

Trial set for CV fire chiefs

Former Cotton Valley Fire Protection District 8 chief Dennis Meshell and assistant chief Adam Hurley received a new status conference from Judge John Roberts Monday.

The new date is October 12 with a new trial date on December 10.

"It's a matter of discovery," Marty Stroud, attorney for Meshell and Hurley, said. "There's a lot of paper in this case and it takes a while to go through. It's a paper-intensive case as opposed to a witness-intensive case."

Felony Division Supervisor Angela Hall said that Webster Parish District Attorney's Office sent a letter to the pair requesting restitution for FPD 8. Stroud said the amount was more than he expected.

"My numbers and their numbers...there was a discrepancy," he said. "I think it's because there were some materials that I either overlooked or didn't have, and they are providing that material for me.

"They are certainly cooperating with my request," Stroud continued. "But when you are charged with misappropriation of, for example a credit card, and it's not particularized, you have to go through various receipts and things."

According to Stroud, a delay was needed due to new discovery in the case and because he had a conflict in another court on the original trial date.

Regardless of the final restitution amount, Meshell and Hurley will have to pay if they want the potential of any kind of deal from the DA, according to Hall.

"I am not aware of a plea bargain made by the DA's office," she said. "We are waiting on response from the defendants regarding their intentions on restitution."

To avoid any issues farther along, according to Stroud, Meshell's plea of not guilty was re-entered. Meshell was not present at the original arraignment, so his original plea had been entered by Stroud in his stead.

Meshell and Hurley were charged with malfeasance in office, injuring public records and felony theft for allegedly maintaining two accounts of FPD 8 funds without board or auditor knowledge. Both have pleaded not guilty to all counts.

"They basically had two checking accounts that only Chief Meshell and assistant Chief Hurley had access to," Webster Parish Sheriff's Office Captain Dustin Reynolds said at the time of their arrest. "The checks and all the records dealing with those accounts were stored at Chief Meshell's house."

Reynolds said the financial statements were hidden from the FPD 8 board and legislative auditors and for around the past three years Hurley and Meshell allegedly were siphoning funds totaling close to $50,000 intended to go into the district's coffers.

Meshell and Hurley say the board knew the accounts existed and one had been in existence well before either were employed with the district.






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