A number of large check payments reimbursed to Ringer’s credit card account with fire company funds were found to be for approved fire company business, such as the costs for personnel to attend the annual Fire Department Instructors Conference in Indianapolis, the charging document said.
Purchase of a remote start kit and keyless entry system for a Mitsubishi was also listed, although former president Jim Kimble told investigators the fire company did not have any vehicles of that make, the charging document said.
Bare wrote in the charging document that a number of Halfway trustees and officers were interviewed and “each advised that the transactions listed ... were not related to VFCH business, that they were not aware that the defendant was spending VFCH funds in this way, (and) that the charges listed would not have been authorized by the Executive Board.”
In 2010, while Ringer was chief, he was placed on paid administrative leave for 66 days at a time when the Maryland State Police were conducting the gaming investigation. He was later reinstated and former president Jim Kimble told The Herald-Mail in 2011 that Ringer’s suspension was not linked to the investigation of possible missing gaming funds, but did not detail the reason for the suspension.
While the U.S. Attorney’s Office and IRS investigators did not find criminal activity in Halfway’s gaming operations, there was criticism of how it was managed.
The fire company exercised “no real fiduciary responsibility toward their gaming activities, and due to the gaming operation being largely a ‘cash’ operation with nearly non-existent internal controls over the money, it would be all but impossible to detect if money was being taken,” the charging document said.
When the investigation was focused on the company’s gaming activities, police interviewed Ringer, who told them “he had suspicions money was being taken” by a fire company member whom he named, as well as another man.
During the course of the investigation, police also received anonymous letters making allegations of misuse of funds, including grant money, separate from the gaming activities, the charging document said.
No grant funds were found to be improperly spent, the document said.
Staff writer Arnold Platou contributed to this story