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Woman, daughter accused of embezzling money from fire company

September 30, 2009

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- A Ranson, W.Va., woman and her daughter were arraigned Wednesday in Jefferson County Magistrate Court on charges they embezzled thousands of dollars from Citizens Volunteer Fire Co. Auxiliary, West Virginia State Police said in a news release.

Christine Stotler, 50, of 102 Marl Drive, was arraigned on counts of embezzlement and conspiracy to commit embezzlement, according to a release by 1st Sgt. E.D. Burnett.

Jenifer Lyn Penwell, 26, of the same address, was arraigned on one count of accessory to embezzlement and one count of conspiracy to commit embezzlement, according to the release.

Both were released from custody on $20,000 personal recognizance bonds.

Leaders of the volunteer fundraising organization for the fire company told a state police trooper last month they believed more than $13,000 in community contributions had been embezzled from the auxiliary's BB&T bank account, according to Burnett.

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A review of financial records revealed that between April and July 2009, $13,210.04 was withdrawn by Stotler, who later was removed as the organization's treasurer, according to the release.

Stotler completed and signed about 55 checks to withdraw the money, Burnett said.

The account was closed due to negative funds, and the auxiliary board voted in September to remove Stotler from office and pursue criminal charges.

Last week, in an interview with a trooper, Stotler said she gave 50 of the checks to her daughter to cash at the Ranson offices of BB&T, according to Burnett.

"Stotler stated that upon receiving the cash, Jenifer Penwell would give her the money and retain approximately $20 for her personal use," according to the release.

Auxiliary leaders told police the only members who had access to the organization's account were the president and the treasurer.

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