SOUTH THOMASTON, Maine — The town has filed a lawsuit against its former fire chief and another former department member, accusing them of unjustly enriching themselves with nearly $15,000 that was to help pay for a new fire truck.
The lawsuit was filed by the community’s attorney Friday in Knox County Superior Court against former chief Wayne A. Brown and former firefighter Colin Grierson.
Brown and Grierson’s attorney, Walter McKee of Augusta, said Friday afternoon that his clients deny all the allegations by the town.
The town has been trying to get the money for years. The funds had been in bank accounts controlled by the South Thomaston Firemen’s Association. The association voted in May 2007 to dissolve and have any money it had to go to the town for the purchase of a fire truck, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states that on July 15, 2010, Brown withdrew a total of $14,783 from the association’s accounts.
The issue of what happened with the association’s money first arose publicly at a July 2010 selectmen’s meeting when officials demanded that the money be turned over to the town by representatives of the association.
When the town purchased a fire truck last year, officials renewed their efforts and have made numerous attempts since to have the money returned but with no success.
“The response from the defendants included avoidance, evasion and denial of knowledge,” according to the lawsuit.
The town also referred the matter in April to the Maine attorney general’s office for possible criminal charges but the attorney general’s office has not commented on its investigation.
Brown was a member of the firemen’s association until it disbanded. He was fire chief until 2006, when he resigned. Five members of that defunct association signed a letter sent in May to the attorney general’s office stating that Brown had no authority to withdraw the money.
Brown previously has told the Bangor Daily News that he does not recall if he withdrew the money.
Grierson, who also was a member of the now defunct association, told the BDN last year that he does not know what happened to the money.
The association’s money was raised in a variety of ways, such as by doing controlled burns of fields and catering meals for local events. The money was used for coffee and doughnuts for firefighters when they fought fires, but the overwhelming bulk was set aside for fire equipment.