CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — According to State Auditor John B. McCuskey, a fraud investigation at Canaan Valley State Park (CVSP) found nearly $165,000 was stolen from West Virginia taxpayers.

Michael Chaney, former Director of Operations at CVSP, used the money to buy personal items like Christmas decorations and guns.

The embezzlement was discovered in October 2020 when Chaney took medical leave, and invoices were found for purchases unrelated to the resort.

When Chaney was Director, he worked for Regency Hotel Management and oversaw daily operations at the resort.

Starting in May 2017, he spent state dollars on personal goods.

Chaney bought 19 sets of professional-grade Christmas decorations, ranging from $1,100 to $5,500. Chaney made an “elaborate display” in his yard with decorations that included a nativity scene, cross, an angel and other holiday classics.

Chaney also used public funds to buy 10 firearms, dozens of tools and building materials, a Honda ATV and other items.

Agencies involved in the case include the West Virginia State Auditor’s Public Integrity Unit, the Tucker County Prosecutor’s Office and the West Virginia State Police.

“I’m proud of the work from our team in the Public Integrity Unit, assisting the Tucker County Prosecutor and State Police in this investigation to send a strong message that fraud and misuse of public money will not be tolerated,” McCuskey said. “Our investigators compiled a list that is 20 pages long of all the items that Mr. Chaney bought for himself on the taxpayer’s dime. It is a gross abuse and today justice was served.”

Chaney plead guilty to five counts of felony embezzlement. He was sentenced Wednesday, March 9th, in Tucker County Circuit Court.

Chaney received a sentence of one to ten years for each count, with sentences to be served jointly. Chaney was taken into custody following the hearing.