Tahlequah Daily Press

November 20, 2013

Former fire chief pleads not guilty

By JOSH NEWTON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — A former Peggs fire chief accused of 16 counts of forgery and a count of embezzlement has pleaded not guilty.

Roger D. Fine, 54, appeared in Cherokee County District Court Tuesday afternoon to enter his plea during an initial appearance. Fine was ordered back to court for a felony sounding docket in front of Associate District Judge Mark Dobbins on Jan. 6, 2014, at 9 a.m.

Fine was indicted by a multi-county grand jury in October. He’s accused of forging checks from the Peggs Volunteer Fire Department – about $4,725 – “for gambling, personal enrichment, and other unlawful purposes.”

The indictment alleges Fine misappropriated Peggs VFD funds between August 2009 and November 2012.

When the allegations first surfaced in early 2013, Fine stepped aside as the Peggs fire chief and said the claims were a “misunderstanding.”

According to the charges, Fine wrote checks to several local businesses and forged the signature of Dale Fine, a relative who was a co-signatory on the Peggs VFD bank account.

The indictment alleges Dale Fine did not sign the checks himself, and did not give Roger Fine permission to sign the checks on his behalf.

If convicted of embezzlement, Roger Fine could face not more than five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, and an order for restitution.

jnewton@tahlequahdailypress.com