UPDATE 3/11/2014 12:53 p.m. -- Butch Lawhorn will plead guilty to some of his 77 charges on April 7. A sentencing date will then be set. A resolution has not been made on any remaining charges.


Friday morning, former Buena Vista fire chief Butch Lawhorn will be in court to set a date for his fraud trial.

In late January, he was indicted on nearly 80 counts after a State Police investigation found he was faking certificates for swift water rescue courses he taught to dozens of first responders in our area.

Last week the organization whose certificates he faked called Rescue 3 International was in Rockbridge County meeting with fire chiefs there about how to make sure all rescue team members know live-saving techniques.

From California, Rescue 3 President Mike Turnbull told WDBJ7's Chris Hurst, he fears there are people out there taught by Lawhorn who still don't know it may have all been a con.

"They thought they were taking a Rescue 3 class so they were duped," he said. "The public's been dupted and the fire departments have been duped."

Turnbull plans to have workshops later this spring at a reduced cost for all of the men taught by Lawhorn to make them properly certified.

If you need help contacting Rescue 3, call 1-800-457-3728.

Last fall, WDBJ7 first reported Lawhorn was the focus of a State Police investigation. He lost his chief position around the same time. Sources with knowledge of the State Police investigation say since as early as 2010, Lawhorn has taught rescue squad members and firefighters in the county using teaching materials he wasn't authorized to use and gave out  fake certificates of completion. The paperwork looks like it's from Rescue 3. In a search warrant, state police investigators said though Lawhorn did take steps to become a technician, he never completed necessary course work and is not authorized by any organization to teach life-saving techniques.