WKYT Investigates: Former chief accused of buying underwear, candles on squad's dime

MCCREARY COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - They're suspected of buying toys and tobacco on a search and rescue squad's dime.

State police are investigating the former McCreary County Search and Rescue Squad's chief and treasurer for inappropriate spending. The husband and wife took the leadership roles last June, but have since been removed from office.

Deputy Judge Executive Andrew Powell is calling it a case of improper management. Powell has pages of receipts for items Luster Bryant and his wife Billie bought on the McCreary County's Search and Rescue account. At the time, Luster was chief and wife Billie, treasurer.

"A lot of what we had found was just gross ignorance," Powell explained, "in reviewing those purchases, you could obviously tell that some of the purchases were not squad related. So if their money is not used for the purposes intended, then we're putting lives at risk. So it should be upsetting to people."

The receipts from the squad within the last six months have come from stores like Walmart, Kroger, and Family Dollar.

"You would have a few restaurants, a few department stores, things of that nature," said Powell.

WKYT found charges for men's underwear, jeans, coloring books, scented candles, smokeless tobacco, jewelry, kid's toys, even goldfish.

"I do not think it was malicious, deliberate attempt to try to embezzle or squander away county tax dollars I think it was just an opportunity that was put before them and that they got in a tough spot," Powell said.

WKYT visited the Bryants's home to ask about the purchases. No one answered, and attempts to reach them on the phone weren't successful. The Bryants, if charged, could face fines, even possible jail time.

"It upset me obviously, and the thing that I think that that I looked at more so than anything else was that even though these folks are volunteers, they swear an oath to do a job," described Powell.

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