Former Radio Station Manager Accused in Fraud Investigation

By Beacon Staff

KALISPELL – A radio station’s former office manager is accused of inflating purchases of supplies so that he would receive gifts from vendors.

Kent Etchison, 33, of Kalispell, pleaded not guilty to mail fraud Thursday before a federal judge in Missoula.

Etchison’s duties at station KOFI included ordering office supplies and managing payments owed and received. He is accused of ordering excessive office supplies so that he would receive goods, such as a television and a laptop computer, that vendors offered as incentives to make substantial purchases.

Etchison is accused of ordering about $925,000 in supplies, well beyond the station’s needs, between March 2003 and June 2006.

Federal prosecutors say that some supplies that were incompatible with the radio station’s equipment and some were paid for but never received.

Etchison also is accused of manipulating the station’s records. According to an indictment, some vendors received handwritten checks rather than payment using a computerized accounting system, and false names and sums were on some of the entries in that system. Etchison also is accused of erasing records of checks written to vendors from whom he received rewards.