A 70-count indictment was returned Friday by the Clay County Grand Jury that involved over $75,000 being stolen from a local water company for 34 months ranging from late 2012 through 2015.
Jim Mathis, 69, of Burning Springs, the former manager of North Manchester Water Department, Charles Stivers, 57, of Manchester, the accountant for the department and Luke Mathis, 46, of Burning Springs, son of Jim and formerly employed by North Manchester Water, were indicted on charges of criminal complicity to commit theft by unlawful taking over $500.
Jim Mathis and Charles Stivers were indicted on 70 counts with Luke Mathis being indicted on 34 counts.
Commonwealth Attorney Gary Gregory said the investigation had been ongoing for several years, but declined to comment further as the case is still under investigation.
Beginning on November 5th, 2012, Jim Mathis and Charles Stivers allegedly conspired to commit the offense by issuing checks to Mathis’ wife, Betty in the amount of $1,063. Four checks were issued in 2012 totaling $4,252 to Betty Mathis, who wasn’t an employee of the company. No description was given on what services she performed or if they were listed as payroll.
In January 2013 the check amount changed to $1,037 for separate checks issued on Jan. 2 and the 14th. The amount changed to $1,040 beginning on January 28th through the remainder of the year for a total amount of $25,994.00 for the entire year of 2013. The checks were issued twice a month for each month except for July as three checks were issued that month and October when one check was issued. A total of 25 checks were issued to Betty Mathis in 2013, according to the indictment.
The checks to Betty Mathis continued in 2014 over a four-month period from January through April in the amount of $1,040 per check with eight total checks being issued for a total of $8,320.00.
Sources close to the investigation say at some point around that time Mrs. Mathis fell ill and was diagnosed with cancer. Death records indicate she passed away on August 29th, 2016.
Over an 18-month period Betty Mathis received a total of $38,566. Jim Mathis and Charles Stivers face 36 counts over this period of time in the scheme.
Beginning in April, 2015 the indictment claims checks began being issued to Jim Mathis and Luke Mathis, who were no longer an employees of the water district. Jim Mathis received separate checks in the amount of $1,058.00. Records show Jim Mathis received 14 checks over seven months totaling $14,812.00 from April through October of 2015.
Luke Mathis received checks from April 6th through December 1 of 2015 in the amount of $1,143.00 each. Over a nine-month span Luke Mathis received 18 checks in the amount of $20, 574.00. Jim Mathis, Luke Mathis and Stivers face 34 counts over this period of time in the scheme, according to the indictment.
The total amount allegedly stolen by the Mathis’s and Stivers equals $73, 952.00 in checks. The investigation also shows that North Manchester Water Company paid an individual named Garland Gabbard $3,200 to conduct paving on private property. It was not specified whose property the paving occurred on, but all three men were charged. The total amount allegedly stolen from the department is $77,152.00 through 70 checks.
The water department has faced financial issues over the last several years including having to secure a loan for over $1 million to keep the department afloat. The water association has been having an ongoing issue of paying the loan back through the fiscal court.
All three men will appear in court on March 2nd for arraignment.