Embezzlement Case

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A woman has been arrested for stealing more than $350,000 from a volunteer fire department in Fruita.

Barbara F. Cowley worked for the Lower Valley Fire District from 1972 until May of 2006. Cowley was the Clerk to the Board of Directors, this put her in charge of payroll for all employees, including herself.

An audit performed in March of 2006 showed there was a lot of money missing. According to Cowley's Arrest Affidavit, she had been embezzling money since 1997. In all she is accused of stealing $364,000 from the department. Lower Valley Fire Protection District is primarily a volunteer organization and the chief says this money could have been put to good use in protecting the rural community.

Cowley turned herself in this morning at the Mesa County Jail, she was out on a $10,000 bond shortly after. She faces felony charges of theft of more than $15,000. She is expected in court tomorrow afternoon.

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