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Fire company suspends two from bingo roles

June 08, 2006|From Staff reports

CLEAR SPRING

Two Clear Spring Volunteer Fire Co. members have been removed from their roles with the company's bingo operations while an investigation into alleged wrongdoing takes place.

The Washington County Gaming Office and Maryland State Police are investigating alleged violations of bingo and tip jar operations at the fire company.

The investigation was ongoing and charges related to the gaming infractions are possible, according to a letter from the gaming office read aloud Wednesday night at a fire company meeting.

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Fire company members voted during the meeting to forbid Tom Altman and Wanda Lynch from being on the fire company's property and from using any of the company's property during the investigation. Altman was banned from representing the fire company in any way during that time.

Altman was responsible for overseeing the station's bingo operations, fire company president Ronald Poole said. Lynch was never formally assigned bingo duties, but she was performing the function of treasurer, he said.

"She handles the money for bingo," Poole said.

Altman and Lynch declined to comment on the rulings after the company meeting.

Members also voted Wednesday to stop compensating people "to help at bingo so we are no longer in violation of state and county" laws.

In the letter to the fire company, the violations were described as ranging from minor to serious. The letter alleged that members of the fire company were being compensated to operate bingo games and tip jars, a violation of state law.

"We need to protect the integrity of Clear Spring Volunteer Fire Co.," said Tom Grosh, a lifetime member of the company. "We need to suspend paying anyone at bingo. We know it's being done, and now we know it's wrong."

Grosh also asked Altman and Lynch to step down from their positions.

Following Grosh's remarks at the meeting, Altman told him, "I have a lawyer you can talk to."

Fire company members also voted to hire a corporate attorney to represent them.

"We know what a lot of the violations are," Poole said, noting that the fire company is working to correct the problems.

The allegations only relate to the company's bingo and tip jar activities, not its firefighting or rescue activities.

A fire company official was given a petition with about 190 signatures in support of Altman and Lynch.

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