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Halfway fire chief reinstated

company remains under investigation

July 08, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE

HALFWAY -- After being on paid administrative leave for 66 days, Fire Chief Jeff Ringer was back on the job Thursday for The Volunteer Fire Company of Halfway, Md., Inc., his attorney said.

The fire company remains under investigation, Maryland State Police said.

Ringer confirmed he was back to work, and referred all other questions to his attorney, John Salvatore.

Salvatore read a joint statement from him and John H. Urner, the fire company's attorney.

"They resolved the matter. ... the membership's suspension hearing is currently a closed internal matter," Salvatore said Thursday.

A suspension hearing actually wasn't held as the sides reached an agreement, Salvatore said.

Ringer was placed on paid administrative leave, effective May 3. Ed Ernst, deputy chief, served as acting fire chief during Ringer's suspension.

Salvatore previously said Ringer was placed on administrative leave after speaking to Maryland State Police and IRS investigators who were looking into bingo and tip jar operations at the fire company.

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Urner previously said Ringer was suspended pending a determination of whether he had breached advice of counsel.

Urner has said the administrative leave was another matter and he would not give the reason for it.

Trooper 1st Class Scott Bare said Thursday the investigation concerning the fire company was still open. He referred all other questions to Greg Shipley, spokesman for Maryland State Police in Pikesville, Md.

Shipley referred questions to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Baltimore.

Vickie LeDuc, a public information officer for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said Thursday morning that she cannot confirm or deny whether the fire company was under investigation.

Salvatore said a sanctions hearing originally scheduled for Wednesday night was not held. Instead, the fire company's executive committee was to meet Wednesday night at the fire station to discuss a proposed agreement regarding Ringer that was hammered out by Ringer, Salvatore, Urner and fire company President James Kimble Sr., Salvatore said Wednesday.

Interviewed Thursday before the joint statement was issued, Urner said he would have nothing to add.

Kimble also said he had nothing to add.

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