The Searsport fire chief officially resigned from the position on Wednesday amid an investigation into alleged embezzlement from a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Searsport Fire Department.

Andrew Webster submitted a formal resignation letter during the Searsport Select Board meeting on Wednesday, according to the Republican Journal.

Webster, who has served as the chief of the small town fire department since 2012, has been charged with receiving stolen property. Webster’s domestic partner Gina Philbrick, 43, who lives with Webster at their home on Dixmont Road in Monroe has been accused of stealing more than $11,000.

Philbrick has been charged with felony theft by deception.

Webster was recently suspended from his position pending the completion of an investigation.

Two assistant fire chiefs will run the department until Select Board members reach a decision on how to fill the vacant position, the Republican Journal reports.

Last month, Searsport police began looking into a suspicion that money had gone missing from the Barney Hose Association, a charitable organization that raises funds through donations and events that are used to support scholarships, buy Christmas presents for children in need and other worthy causes.

Philbrick was treasurer of the group, according to an arrest affidavit written by Officer James Greeley of the Searsport Police Department. She, Webster and two other people were authorized users of the Barney Hose bank account, held at Bangor Savings Bank. One of the other authorized users told police that there was an $8,000 shortfall between what Philbrick reported was in the organization’s coffers and what was actually in the account.

According to the affidavit, the group’s bylaws mandated that anytime someone wanted to withdraw more than $100 from the Barney Hose bank account, they needed to get it approved by a vote. Although no votes had taken place, police saw that several checks of $1,000 or more had been drawn and deposited in a USAA bank account.

The bank asked the four authorized users to come in and verify their signatures, Greeley wrote. At this point, Philbrick allegedly told the others that she had accidentally written the checks and intended to write them from her own account at Bangor Savings Bank. One of the others told her that in that case she should be able to pay Barney Hose back and make it right.

“Philbrick told him that she was unable to do this and would have to take a second job to pay the money back,” Greeley wrote.

Altogether, police allege that beginning in January 2021, Philbrick had written checks to herself that totaled $11,600. Greeley wrote that she admitted to writing those checks with no authorization to do so.

Police arrested her on June 30 and took her to Waldo County Jail to be booked. She was released on $10,000 unsecured cash bail, Greeley said.

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Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.