SOUTH THOMASTON, Maine — The lengthy dispute over the disappearance of nearly $15,000 from a local defunct firemen association’s bank account will go to trial in October.
A trial before a judge will be held Oct. 25 and Oct. 26 in Knox County Unified Court in the lawsuit brought by South Thomaston against former Fire Chief Wayne Brown and former firefighter Colin Grierson.
The trial date was set following a conference earlier this month.
The Maine attorney general’s office has intervened in the case. In its motion earlier this year to intervene, the state pointed out that one of its responsibilities is to ensure that money given to charities is properly used and that the firemen’s association was a charitable organization. The people who operate the charities owe a fiduciary responsibility of good faith and loyalty to the organization, and that was not done in this case, according to the attorney general’s office.
Brown served on the town’s volunteer fire department for 42 years and was its chief for 16 years until he resigned in April 2006. He also was a member of the firemen’s association until it disbanded.
The $14,783 in question had been in bank accounts controlled by the firemen’s association, according to the town’s lawsuit. The association members voted in May 2007 to dissolve and to give any money the association had to the town for the purchase of a firetruck, the suit states.
The town maintains in its lawsuit that Brown withdrew the money from the account in July 2010.
Town officials indicate they made numerous unsuccessful attempts to have the money returned and eventually bought a firetruck in 2014 without those funds.
Brown previously told the BDN that he does not recall whether he withdrew the money from the firemen’s association accounts. Grierson, who also was a member of the now defunct association, previously told the BDN that he does not know what happened to the money.
The defendants’ attorney, Walter McKee of Augusta, has said the money is being held in a separate account and said the town could get the money if it purchased a Class A pump truck as the money was intended.
In July 2015, the attorney general’s office told the town it would not conduct a criminal investigation into the disappearance of the money.
Local firefighters raised funds for the association in a variety of ways, including 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 to buy fire equipment.