Former Lead Hill, Ark. city treasurer accused of writing off family water bills, authorizing illegal payments

Published: Dec. 13, 2019 at 11:44 AM CST
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(Editor's note: An earlier version of this story inaccurately referred to Michael Farrar as the defendant's husband. Mr. Farrar is the defendant's brother-in-law. KY3 regrets the error.)

A former Arkansas city treasurer faces criminal charges for using her job to write-off family water bills and ensure her brother-in-law received city funds he was not legally owed.

Boone County prosecutors charged Mary K. Farrar, 66, with two felonies and a misdemeanor Dec. 13. Farrar is the former City of Lead Hill treasurer.

According to court documents, Farrar admitted to adjusting more than $1,700 on her own water bill over a six-year stretch and nearly $2,000 on her daughter and son-in-law's water bill while she was employed with the city.

In addition, no payments were made to Farrar's account for several stretches combining to 50 months between 2012 and Jan. 2018.

Meanwhile, Farrar's husband used $216.70 worth of water on his account without paying for it despite the account being closed in March 2014.

Farrar is also accused of signing off on checks totaling nearly $2,000 in compensatory and unused vacation funds for her brother-in-law, former city water superintendent Michael Farrar, after he was fired. Lead Hill city policy notes, "if an employee is fired, they lose all vacation, sick and comp time." Farrar and former Mayor Joe Inman signed those checks, according to court documents.

A Division of Legislative Audit special audit on Lead Hill's Water Department for 2014 through 2018 helped uncover the illegal activity.

Farrar told investigators her family was under "financial distress" because her husband was not working. She went on to write-off water bills for her daughter and son-in-law because "times were hard," a court affidavit states. Farrar began making payments again in early 2018 after her husband's disability checks arrived.

In total, documents show Farrar wrote-off or authorized $5,661.32 in payments. Farrar provided a written confession, according to prosecutors.

Farrar faces up to 20 years in prison, one year in jail, and up to $22,500 in fines if convicted.