A former local fire chief  faces criminal charges after a Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office investigation revealed a possible misuse of public funds.

Siskiyou County District Attorney Kirk Andrus said former Mount Shasta Fire Protection District chief Christopher Baker faces a single felony misappropriation of public funds charge stemming from unauthorized use of the District’s credit card.

Andrus said Baker is charged with misappropriating between $5,000 and $10,000 over about a year’s time in 2011.

A Letter to Appear has been sent to Baker, asking him to report to the court for arraignment on Wednesday, March 21, Andrus said.

Baker resigned on Jan. 9, and he and the MSFPD board of directors have “cooperated fully with the investigation,”?according to Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey in a Feb. 29 press release.

“Although the investigation is continuing,” Lopey said,  “SCSO determined that sufficient evidence was developed by the investigator to warrant the request to the district attorney for the criminal filing of embezzlement charges... The case still has to be adjudicated through the Siskiyou County Superior Court.”

Lopey said the case originated when the MSFPD board contacted the Siskiyou County Auditor-Controller to report an irregularity on a credit card statement. After a subsequent meeting with MSFPD officials, Auditor-Controller Jennie Ebejer contacted the Sheriff’s Office and a criminal investigation was initiated.

The MSFPD has commissioned a comprehensive financial audit to determine if further financial losses were incurred from previous years of Baker’s assignment, Lopey said.

The MSFPD is a special district supported by public funds, which requires review of fiscal transactions by Siskiyou County officials.  

Ebejer receipts the district’s revenue for deposit with the Siskiyou County Treasurer’s Office, Lopey states in the release.

According to Ebejer, her office is responsible for disbursing funds at the request of the MSFPD Board of Directors. She does not manage the books of the District; however, the Auditor-Controller does review financial documents submitted to the county for payment.

Andrus said Baker was approving charges on the district’s credit card “without another set of eyes approving them.”