Former Raleigh County fire chief backs out of plea deal with prosecutor


The former Sophia Vol. Fire Dept. Chief has backed out of a plea with prosecutors.
The former Sophia Vol. Fire Dept. Chief has backed out of a plea with prosecutors.(wvva)
Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 4:01 PM EDT
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BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) - The former chief of the Sophia Vol. Fire Dept. has backed out of a plea with prosecutors.

Kenneth Richard Churning, 60, is accused of stealing more than $130,000 dollars from the Sophia Volunteer Fire Department through cash withdrawals, cash back transactions, and personal expense reimbursements. According to the State Auditor’s Office, the charges relate to transactions that occurred between July 2017 and December 2019.

According to Raleigh County Chief Prosecuting Attorney Ben Hatfield, Churning backed out of a plea deal that was set for a hearing on Wednesday. As a result of that decision, Hatfield said no other plea offer will be extended.

Churning has a Pre-trial hearing set for November 14, 2022, and is set to go to trial on December 5, 2022.

The investigation was led by the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office.