Former Carthage Chief, Wife Indicted
A former Carthage police chief and his wife are facing numerous felony charges after being indicted earlier this week by a Moore County grand jury.
The indictments against Chris and Allison McKenzie include separate counts of embezzlement and related offenses.
Allison McKenzie is charged in connection with the theft of more than $350,000 from a local dentist.
Chris McKenzie, the former chief, is accused in court documents of using a town credit card to buy goods for his own use in May and July of 2011. On July 21, 2011, he is alleged to have used a town gasoline key "to obtain gasoline for his privately owned automobile from the Moore County gasoline pumps" for personal use. Each charge of embezzlement was accompanied by a charge of "larceny by employee" and "obtaining property by false pretense."
SBI Special Agent Chad Barefoot is listed as a witness on the former chief's indictments.
Allison McKenzie's charges stem from a theft at a dentist's office where she worked for a number of years. In 2005 and 2006, according to the indictment, Allison McKenzie allegedly collected $41,457.36 in cash payments made by patients of Dr. G.R. Horton but did not deposit them, "instead misappropriating the cash" for her own use.
From the first of 2007 through the end of 2008, she allegedly kept $131,617.90 of the dentist's money - all in cash received by the practice but never deposited, according to the indictment. The next two years, court records show she allegedly embezzled another $145,392.12 and during the first six months of 2011 allegedly took $37,703.35 "in U.S. currency ... by means of a false pretense which was calculated to deceive and did deceive."
McKenzie was Carthage's police chief for nearly a decade and got international attention in 2009 following the nursing home murders at Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Center. Media swarmed the little town following Robert Kenneth Stewart's bloody Sunday shotgunning of elderly residents in beds and wheelchairs on March 29.
A young officer, Justin Garner, responded to 911 calls and went in alone. He faced Stewart in a hallway exchange of gunfire that left both wounded. Despite his own injuries, Garner arrested Stewart, who was later convicted of eight murders in an extensive trial.
McKenzie and Garner appeared together on NBC's morning news program "The Today Show" and were interviewed by Matt Lauer. Many other national and international news organizations sought interviews and appearances, but McKenzie refused. He said neither he nor the Carthage department would seek publicity or take advantage from the grief born by the victims' families.
The officer and chief were much in demand by other law enforcement agencies for help with officer training. Chris McKenzie resigned suddenly during the final days of Stewart's trial last year, and Bart Davis, McKenzie's second-in-command, succeeded him as chief.
Davis said he could make no comment about the indictments, though he has known both Chris and Allison McKenzie for many years. After McKenzie's resignation last year, the town conducted an audit of the department and found no problems at the time.
The SBI's audit and investigation was much deeper and led to the charges in Monday's indictment of the former chief.
Chris McKenzie is not accused of having any part in his wife's alleged thefts in the criminal complaints. Both had been sued by the dentist's company last fall, but made no defense to the lawsuit.
Horton's company obtained judgment by default against both of the McKenzies without any allegations being heard by the court.
Carthage Town Manager Carol Sparks is on a long-planned family vacation and could not be reached for comment.
"We are very disheartened by any of this," said Mayor Lee McGraw. "It was all done by SBI investigators, not by the town. Other than that, we know little about these charges. Our hearts go out to the McKenzie family during this tough time."
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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