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Former fire chief pleads not guilty

The former Mulberry fire chief is accused of submitting falsified reports to receive payment for fires calls.

Timothy John Oldham, 44, of Mulberry pleaded not guilty Oct. 2 in Crawford County Circuit Court to second-degree forgery and theft by deception.

Fort Smith Attorney Joel Price entered the not guilty plea for Oldham, who is free on a signature bond, and waived formal arraignment before Judge Gary R. Cottrell.

An investigation by Senior Cpl. Robin Kuykendall of the Arkansas State Police alleges there were a total of 64 reports submitted to the City of Mulberry which appeared to have been altered. The falsified reports generated $1,294.75, according to Kuykendall’s investigation.

Kuykendall began the investigation May 8 when he was contacted by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Baker, who said he became aware of inconsistencies with records generated by Oldham.

Baker said he had gathered the documents for a Freedom of Information request in his role as Mulberry city attorney.

He reported it appeared inconsistencies of fire department records showed Oldham was being paid for fire calls at which the fire department was not present.

Mulberry Administrative Assistant Becky Shockley told Kuykendall Aug. 20 she also believed Oldham was submitting claims for payment of fire calls which had not been attended.

Kuykendall said reports prepared at a fire scene are faxed to Crawford County Fire Services Coordinator Les Jenkins. It appeared Oldham’s unit number had been added to some of the reports to generate a payment from the City of Mulberry, the investigator said.

Sept. 9, Kuykendall interviewed former firefighters Vernon and Linda Dewater, who prepared fire reports for the department.

Vernon Dewater told Kuykendall that Oldham’s unit number “201” was added to reports prepared by the Dewaters. Dewater said the addition was not his handwriting, reports said.

Kuykendall said he contacted Oldham Sept. 10 and Sept. 11 in attempts to get him to come to the Alma Police Department for interviews. Sept. 12, Kuykendall was contacted by Price who said he would let him know when he could speak with his client.

Sept. 17, Baker told Kuykendall he was contacted by Price who said Oldham would not submit to an interview.

Baker prepared an arrest affidavit on Oldham for theft and forgery Sept. 17.

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