FARMINGTON — Former St. Francois County Commissioner Ron VarVera, 60, has been charged with one Class C Felony of Stealing: $500 or more. The charge was filed on Thursday by Missouri Assistant Attorney General Douglas Pribble.
VarVera was called for comment but did not immediately return the call. He also had not turned himself in as of press time at 7 p.m. Friday.
The investigation leading up to the charge was handled by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
The felony complaint alleges between Jan. 1, 2005 and Dec. 31, 2008 VarVera appropriated property and services of a value of at least $500 including: truck tires, tractor tires, gravel, gasoline, cash reimbursements for mileage, water tanks, wood-burning stove, labor services of county employees working on county time, towing and mechanic services, usage of county equipment.
The complaint alleges VarVera appropriated the property and services without the consent of St. Francois County.
According to the probable cause statement, on Nov. 8, 2007, VarVera purchased a 1984 International semi truck for his personal business. On Nov. 13, 2007, VarVera had six retread tires and two new tires put on the same semi truck. The tires were charged to and paid for by the county in the amount of $2,290. On April 11, 2008, VarVera had a tow company tow the semi truck to a local business. The tow bill for $325 was submitted to the county for payment. The semi truck repairs in the amount of $372.46 was submitted to the county and paid for by the county.
On Dec. 5, 2007, VarVera had county workers pick up two tractor tires from a local business and had the tires mounted on his personal tractor. The tractor tires were paid for by the county in the amount of $1,743.26. In the summer of 2007, a county road and bridge employee was instructed by VarVera to pick up and deliver gravel to VarVera’s farm with the use of county equipment and while on county time. The employee delivered 12 loads of gravel costing approximately $865, for which the county paid.
The statement continues that VarVera would regularly submit mileage and gasoline expenses to the county. Records indicate since January 2005 through February 2008, VarVera averaged 1,765 miles per month to inspect approximately 250 miles of county roadway. He was reimbursed $25,822.18 for those miles.
Road and Bridge County employees reported seeing VarVera use county gas at the road and bridge shed to fill his personal vehicles. County employees have also stated that they have worked on VarVera’s personal vehicles and tractors while at the county shed and while on county time.
County employees said that they have worked on VarVera’s farm while on county time. One worker stated he worked approximately two months on VarVera’s farm while on county time. That particular worker made $18 an hour from the county road and bridge department. Two months of wages equals approximately $5,760.
In September of 2006, Road and Bridge Department workers worked on VarVera’s farm to help clean up after a tornado hit his property. County equipment and workers were used while on county time. A Road and Bridge Department employee said the county paid for three large water tanks. The employee said the county had no use for the tanks and that they were being used by VarVera at his farm. The approximate value of the tanks are $500 each.
In October of 2005, St. Francois County purchased a wood stove from a local business for $875. In November of 2005, the Road and Bridge Department purchased a second wood stove from the same business at a cost of $799. An employee with the Road and Bridge department said that one of the wood stoves was installed at VarVera’s residence. The employee said after the investigation started, the wood stove was removed from the residence and was taken back to the Road and Bridge department barn.
As of Feb. 4, 2009, the wood stove has not been installed and is in a trailer on St. Francois County property.
If convicted, VarVera could be sentenced up to seven years in prison and fined up to $5,000.