Former fire chief charged with insurance fraud

The former fire chief of Bethalto faces five criminal charges alleging that he falsified occupancy permits and committed health insurance fraud.

Richard Mersinger, 39, was indicted by a Madison County grand jury on four charges of official misconduct, a class 3 felony; and one count of health care benefits fraud, a class A misdemeanor.

In addition to his position as fire chief, Mersinger was Bethalto’s zoning administrator and code enforcement officer. The charges allege that in four instances in 2014, he falsified occupancy permits for four buildings that did not exist.

However, a statement from the Bethalto Police Department indicates there may have been as many as 140 fraudulent permits issued under Mersinger’s watch. Additional details were not immediately available.

They also allege that he obtained health care benefits for his former wife after the date of their divorce for four more years, which is estimated at a cost of approximately $20,000 to the city of Bethalto.

Mersinger was taken into custody on Monday, according to news reports. Madison County Circuit Judge Kyle Napp set bail at $15,000 at the time of the indictment.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald