A federal judge this week sentenced two former fire officials in Charleston County to prison for inflating the cost of a new fire station and pocketing the extra money from a grant to help build the rural facility.
48-year-old Doc Matthews of Hollywood and 68-year-old Mary Jo Thomas-Delaney of Summerville were sentenced Tuesday for their roles in a scheme to embezzle funds from the St. Paul’s Fire District in Hollywood. Matthews was sentenced to 33 months while Thomas-Delaney was given 14 months. Both will also face three years of supervised release afterwards.
Prosecutors said Matthews, Thomas-Delaney and others embezzled roughly $215,000 from a 2010 federal grant which was to help build a new fire station for the St. Paul’s district. Thomas-Delaney’s firm Grant Services, LLC was responsible for administering the FEMA grant, while Matthews was fire chief at the time. Prosecutors said the grant’s administration funds were inflated without any authority, then the inflated amounts were shared amongst those involved in the scheme resulting in a more than $183,000 loss.
The pair were convicted by a jury in July. Both will also have to repay the embezzled money.
Former Assistant Fire Chief Charles Riddle pleaded guilty to his own role in the scheme and cooperated with prosecutors. He was given a year of house arrest and another year of probation.