The director of the Madison County Emergency Management Agency resigned Thursday in the wake of a county audit that found the theft of $341,757 from a federally funded program over a nine-year period.
Carl Richards' resignation is effective immediately, Deputy Judge-Executive Colleen Chaney said in a news release. Richards had been emergency management director since 2004.
Chaney said a county and Kentucky State Police investigation had determined that, "at this time," no county employee aside from Tamara Phelps, a former finance director for the Madison County Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program, is alleged to have taken money.
Nevertheless, Judge-Executive Reagan Taylor put Richards on indefinite suspension Tuesday. In an interview Wednesday, Taylor said Richards had to be held accountable because Phelps reported to Richards.
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Madison County Fiscal Court fired Phelps by unanimous vote May 12.
Taylor said Wednesday that he couldn't dismiss Richards without approval from fiscal court.
"From this point forward, the Madison County Fiscal Court and Judge-Executive Reagan Taylor view this resignation as a personnel matter and will not comment further," the news release said.
The fiscal court will begin a nationwide search immediately to fill the emergency management director's position.
The chemical stockpile program educates and enhances emergency preparedness in communities surrounding the chemical weapons stockpile stored at Blue Grass Army Depot near Richmond.
State police arrested Phelps, 54, this month on more than 60 counts of first-degree forgery and one count of unlawful taking over $10,000.
At the time, Phelps was accused of taking nearly $34,000 in property and services from the preparedness program. She allegedly forged Richards' signature to purchase orders and numerous reimbursement sheets through fiscal court, Taylor said Wednesday.
The $34,000 figure was based on this fiscal year, which began in summer 2014. But when county officials, with assistance from state police, looked further, they found evidence of thefts to 2006, and the amount of grew tenfold, Taylor said Wednesday.
The total preparedness program budget for Madison County is about $14 million.
During Richards' tenure as emergency management director, he oversaw the installation of an $18 million digital radio system for public safety. It replaced an analog system for which replacement parts were difficult to find.