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Ex-fire chief facing theft charges

April 03, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

ST. THOMAS, Pa. - The former chief of St. Thomas Fire and Rescue Inc. has been charged by Pennsylvania State Police with taking more than $5,000 worth of equipment from the fire company, according to court records.

A preliminary hearing for Richard Michael Roche, originally scheduled for Tuesday, has been continued to April 22 at 1 p.m. in Central Court in Chambersburg, Pa., court officials said.

Roche, 34, served as chief of the Long Meadow Volunteer Fire Department before he was elected chief of the St. Thomas Fire Department in December 1999.

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He is charged with four counts of theft, according to records on file in District Justice David Hawbaker's office in Mercersburg, Pa.

The charges include theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received and theft of leased property, court records said.

There was no address listed for Roche in the court records. He was free on bond.

Trooper Stanford Sydnor, the investigating officer, said in court records that he met with Robbie Mellott, president of the St. Thomas Fire Department, on July 2. Mellott was doing an audit of equipment that had been bought with fire department funds while Roche was chief, court records said.

Mellott said the items could not be accounted for and that they were taken without permission, court records alleged.

The items were valued at $5,222, court records said.

According to the court records, the missing items included radios and electronic equipment, a pair of leather boots, 30 pairs of gloves, a yellow helmet, reporting forms, two St. Thomas fire department chief of department badges and two St. Thomas gold money clips, among other items, according to court records.

Roche served as chief in St. Thomas from October 1999 to June 2002, a department spokesman said Wednesday. He was chief of Long Meadow from 1996 to 1999, according to John Latimer IV, the Long Meadow chief.

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