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Two polygamous town officials pleaded not guilty to misuse of public money charges in Arizona on Tuesday.
Colorado City Town Manager David Darger and fire chief Jacob Barlow were arraigned in an approximately five-minute first court appearance and were released on their own recognizance, according to the Mohave County Attorney's Office.
A second hearing was set for 10 a.m., Sept. 26, said Anne Chapman, an attorney for Darger. A case management conference will be held that day for attorneys to raise any disputes or issues in the case so far. Another court date was set for Oct. 24 for challenges to the indictment process.
Darger faces 13 felony counts and Barlow faces 30 felony counts related to misusing public money at the Colorado City Fire District. Attorneys for both men say they are innocent of wrongdoing.
Barlow's attorney, Mike Piccarreta, said the charges were filed under a rarely invoked regulatory law.
"I had never seen a case like this and the judge indicated he had never seen a case under these statutes," he said. "We're dealing with the first time a case has been applied this way."
The charges come after Mohave County sheriff's deputies served a search warrant on the Colorado City Fire Department last year. The warrant focused on the purchase of meals, a trip to the Lava Hot Springs in Idaho, food and furniture bought at Costco, and tax-preparation software.
Nearly all the residents of Colorado City, Ariz. and Hildale, Utah, its immediate neighbor along the Utah-Arizona border, are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Darger and Barlow were indicted Aug. 4, the same day FLDS leader Warren Jeffs was found guilty of sexual assaulting two girls, ages 12 and 15, whom he took as plural wives.
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