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Five accused of stealing money from Dolly Parton's Gatlinburg fire relief fund

Five people face charges of money laundering, criminal conspiracy, and felony theft.
FILE Photo: Fire in downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee in November of 2016. Wilfires burned thousands of acres in Sevier County, Tennessee. (Photo courtesy: Ryan DeSear, GM of Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg)

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Five people have been charged in Tennessee with conspiring to defraud the My People Fund of Dolly Parton's Dollywood Foundation, set up to help people affected by wildfires last year.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports a Sevier County grand jury charged Debra Kay Catlett; her son, Chad Alan Chambers; Rocco Boscalia; Annie Lyons; and Esther Pridemore. The charges include money laundering, criminal conspiracy and felony theft. An arraignment date hasn't been set.

Parton established the fund soon after the wildfires, which claimed 14 lives and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses.

Dollywood Foundation President David Dotson said the fund helped 900 families with about $9 million in the first six months after the fires.

Records allege the accused were able to take about $12,000 before being discovered.

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