Probe continues into Halfway Volunteer Fire Co.

May 24, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS

HALFWAY -- An investigation into gaming revenue at The Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway, Md. Inc., has included interviews and reviews of records, Maryland State Police Trooper Scott Bare said Monday.

State police are helping with a combined investigation involving the IRS and the U.S. Attorney's Office, Bare said.

"We're all taking part in a combined investigation to hopefully answer what Halfway Fire Department is saying they want to get to the bottom of, and that's if money was taken and by whom," he said.

The fire department began an investigation of its own early last year, then contacted the Washington County Gaming Commission with concerns that there might be some money missing, Bare said. The Gaming Commission went to state police in October or November, and the investigating agencies had an initial meeting then to decide how to proceed, he said.

Investigators have looked at a lot of records and conducted multiple interviews, but there are "still many more to be done," Bare said.


One of those interviews was with Halfway Fire Chief Jeff Ringer, whose attorney says he was put on paid administrative leave for talking with investigators without the fire company's attorney present.

The fire company apparently had directed members not to talk to investigators without the attorney present, said Ringer's attorney, John Salvatore.

Bare said he did not know about that directive until troopers stopped at the department to interview Ringer.

"He invited us into the conference room and immediately advised us he could not answer any questions relating to the fire company at the directive of an attorney the fire department had hired," Bare said.

Bare said Ringer answered questions that pertained to him personally, but was adamant that he would not answer questions that had anything to do with his role in the fire department.

"From what I've heard, I don't really understand the suspension," Bare said. "It doesn't seem that he's violated (the directive)."

Fire company officials have declined to comment on Ringer's suspension.

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