Advertisement

Funkstown man accused of posing as a fire marshal

Johnathan Theodore Stahley was charged by the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office with four counts of personation

June 11, 2013|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com

A Funkstown man has been charged by Maryland and Hagerstown fire officials with posing as a fire marshal after allegedly pretending to conduct safety inspections at five Washington County businesses.

Johnathan Theodore Stahley, 22, of 102 E. Baltimore St., was charged by the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office with four counts of personation: member of an emergency squad, according to the statement of charges obtained Tuesday from Washington County District Court.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office also charged Stahley with one count of theft of $1,000 to $10,000.
That charge was filed after Stahley allegedly ordered a Sparky the Fire Dog costume and billed the cost to the Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway, investigators allege in the charging documents.

Stahley also was charged by the Hagerstown Fire Marshal’s Office on one count each of personation: member of an emergency squad and personation: unauthorized use of a uniform. 

Advertisement

If convicted on all counts, Stahley faces a maximum of 28 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

The Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office said in the statement of charges that Deputy State Fire Marshal Edward Ernst responded on the night of May 22 to The Meadows ice cream shop at 222 E. Oak Ridge Drive near Hagerstown.

An employee there told Ernst that a man wearing a silver badge on a blue fire department T-shirt entered the business and said he was there to conduct an inspection.

The employee said the man checked a water heater and a fire extinguisher on the wall, according to court documents.

“(The employee) said that he also kept looking into the office in the area of the safe, and that is when she became suspicious and questioned him,” Ernst wrote in the charging documents. “(The employee) said that he said he would return with paperwork and he walked out of the business.”

The man never returned, the documents said.

Upon further investigation, the fire marshal’s office determined the same man conducted inspections at the 7-Eleven at 10524 Sharpsburg Pike and the Waffle House at 10422 Sharpsburg Pike.

In the case of the 7-Eleven, an employee told the fire marshal’s office that the man was carrying a radio on his side, and was wearing blue pants and a blue fire department T-shirt.

“(The employee) said that he told her that he would write up the documentation and return it to her,” the documents said. “(The employee) also stated that he told her he was a police officer and that he was on the MIEMMS GO Team (team that responds to critical trauma emergencies).”

The employee said the man never returned to give her paperwork regarding the inspection.

Ernst wrote in the statement of charges that he was contacted by Hagerstown Deputy Fire Marshal John Crist, who said he was investigating similar incidents at the Walmart at 17850 Garland Groh Boulevard and the Denny’s restaurant at 1630 Dual Highway.

Crist told Ernst that he identified the suspect as Johnathan Theodore Stahley.

Stahley admitted to inspecting Denny’s and Walmart in Hagerstown, and The Meadows, 7-Eleven and Waffle House in Washington County, according to court documents.

A subsequent search of Stahley’s residence turned up a silver badge, a portable scanner that resembles a radio and a blue fire department T-shirt, the documents said.

“It was also discovered that Mr. Stahley would say that he received a complaint from the (Volunteer Fire Co.) of Halfway and that is why he was there to do the inspection,” the documents said.

Sparky costume

The investigation then led to the Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway, where Fire Chief Nick Dattilio said Stahley wasn’t a member of the fire company, but the department was trying to find him because it received a bill from Robotronics Inc. for a Sparky the Fire Dog costume.

After contacting Robotronics Inc., an employee there said Stahley claimed to be the assistant administrator of the Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway when he ordered the costume.

Court records show the order was shipped to an address that Stahley provided, but when a bill of $2,080 was submitted to the fire company, the Robotronics employee was told that Stahley wasn’t a member.

The Robotronics Inc. employee said the business was unable to contact Stahley to receive payment for the costume.

Stahley applied for membership with Antietam Fire Co., South Hagerstown Fire Co., Funkstown Fire Co. and the Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway, according to the application for the statement of charges filed by the Hagerstown Fire Marshal’s Office.

None of those fire companies said Stahley was a member, the documents said.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|