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    Default Connecticut Fire Departments Being Investigated by The FBI

    See story below from The Day of New London Connecticut. I'm not from the USA, so perhaps someone can tell me why would this matter warrant an FBI investigation?
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    FBI Expands Waterford Fire Department Investigation

    By PATRICIA DADDONA
    Day Staff Writer
    Published on 3/8/2003

    Waterford –– An FBI investigation of town purchases from Shipman's Fire Equipment Inc. has widened to include the financial records of four of Waterford's five volunteer fire companies, according to sources close to the probe.

    The investigation, which began about five months ago, initially focused on possible wrongdoing in the bids for and purchases of fire trucks and other expensive equipment from Shipman's, sources said.

    The scope of the probe expanded in late January when an FBI agent subpoenaed all information “relating to petty cash transactions, cancelled checks, bank statements and books, records, and data” dating back to July 1998 from the Jordan, Goshen, Quaker Hill and Oswegatchie volunteer fire companies, sources said.

    The FBI has not contacted Cohanzie, the fifth fire company, according to Bill Henderson, the fire chief there. Town police have had most of Cohanzie's financial records since a former treasurer was charged two years ago with embezzling $40,000 in company funds, he said.

    Lisa Bull, a spokeswoman at the FBI's New Haven bureau, has refused to confirm or deny that an investigation is under way.

    Sources close to the case, however, said federal or state indictments could result if investigators or a grand jury find evidence of government fraud, such as manipulation of a public bidding process to favor any vendor, or the use of a public post for personal gain.

    Several people at Shipman's, which is based in Waterford, are involved in or have ties to the fire companies. Shipman's president, David Carson, is the son of Melvin E. Carson, chairman of the town's Board of Fire Commissioners, and Brian E. Baker, a Shipman's salesman, is chief of the Oswegatchie fire company.

    The FBI has subpoenaed financial records from Shipman's, a distributor of fire trucks, rescue tools and protective gear, sources said.

    The FBI also has asked the four fire companies to separate out receipts for purchases from Shipman's, according to sources.

    Early in the investigation, sources said, the town turned over all records for fire equipment bids dating back to 1998.

    •••••Fire officials at two of the four companies, who asked not to be identified, said the entire fire department is cooperating with the FBI and has “nothing to hide.”

    Goshen Fire Chief Thomas J. Dembek and Baker, the Oswegatchie chief, declined comment.

    Chiefs Richard T. Kirchhoff of Quaker Hill and Timothy D. Sullivan of Jordan did not return repeated calls for comment.

    C. George Kanabis, a New London attorney representing both Shipman's and the Oswegatchie fire company, said his clients would cooperate with the FBI, but would not comment further.

    “There is no question in my mind,” Kanabis said, “that at the end of this investigation, there will be no criminal charges filed against (my clients).”

    Waterford's fire department, which has seven paid firefighters working with its volunteers, is largely funded with taxpayers' money. The Board of Fire Commissioners, which oversees the five companies, is asking for a $2.1 million budget for next year. In addition, each of the five companies has asked for between $90,000 and $126,000 for fire station utilities and supplies, according to documents.

    Unlike many municipal fire departments, all five Waterford companies are privately incorporated.

    Twice every fiscal year, the town gives each fire company half of its municipal allocation, which a treasurer then deposits in private bank accounts. Separate private accounts hold donations and money from fund-raisers. The amounts in those so-called recreation and benefit accounts typically range from $6,000 to $20,000, according to sources.

    •••••To prevent any future embezzlement at Cohanzie, Henderson, the chief, said he agreed to keep town money for his company in municipal accounts, which are managed by the town's finance director. Henderson said he still approves purchase orders, but that the town now pays the bills. An outside accountant handles the private funds, Henderson said.

    “It's so much more secure,” he said. “And I tell you, it's a huge relief for me, because there's plenty of work to be done in the department. My job is to watch what I'm spending and make sure I get the best deals I can.”

    The department has bought more high-ticket equipment from Shipman's within the past few months, fire commissioners said, including rescue air cushions used to lift heavy objects at accident and fire scenes.

    Fire commissioners Carson and Daniel Riggs said firefighters are perplexed by the FBI investigation and upset because it casts an undeserved cloud over the department.

    “Everybody's questioning, ‘What's this about?' ” said Riggs. “Everybody's tight-lipped about it. It's a distraction.”

    Henderson, discussing the climate within the department, said, “After all the negativity, instead of a grand jury, I hope there would be policy reform, because I don't think anyone's done anything deliberate.”

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    WOW!

    I guess next time I go to bust my Shipman's saleman's stones about calling their competitor I migth be serious! LOL nah

    I love how I have to get (somewhat) local news from Canadians! Nice to know the CT media is on top of things.

    I don't know why the FBI would be involved unless they were using Federal funds. I'm sure Dal90 can explain why the FBI would be involved.
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    Probably the RICO statute.

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    Default Federal Grant Money

    Did the department receive any federal grant money? If so that may be the reason why.

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    If the corruption or embezzlement envolved the improper shipment of goods or large amounts of money across state lines, then the FBI will get involved.

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    Originally posted by ThNozzleman
    If the corruption or embezzlement envolved the improper shipment of goods or large amounts of money across state lines, then the FBI will get involved.
    Well, the 4 FDs and the dealer (Shipman's) are all in the same town.
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    Yes, but if there were evidence of funds/monies being sent to out-of-state accounts or banks, that could be a reason. Guess we'll just have to wait for more info to be released. If the FBI is there, something's probably afoot.

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    Originally posted by drkblram
    Great, one city Mayor's corruption trial is now in the hands of the jury, another mayor is about to start trial for crimes so vile I will not mention them here, now an FD getting investigated. It is a sad world we live in. I hope this is merely a case of just "an apperance of impropriety" as opposed any real wrongdoing and these dept. can refocus on their task, protecting their community.
    The mayors are on one side of the State, Waterford is on the other.

    But you are all in the southern half of the State...what is going on down there?
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    I'm confused. Who was this guy RICO and why did they erect a statue in his honor?? (HeHe)...... Stay Safe....
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    Default Re: Hey Collegebuff!!!!.........

    Originally posted by hwoods
    I'm confused. Who was this guy RICO and why did they erect a statue in his honor?? (HeHe)...... Stay Safe....
    You never heard of Mr. Suave?
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    It's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, for those of you who didn't know and were too shy to ask smart@$$ questions like certain command offices I could mention.

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    like certain command offices I could mention.
    CollegeBuff, does your college have a command officer who is responsible for remedial English?

    Couldn't resist! Have a good day.
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    Originally posted by Adze39
    you are all in the southern half of the State...what is going on down there?
    Touching upon this again...

    The Courant today said the Governor might be involved in a little corruption scandal himself in dealing with the Tomasso family. Although he lives in the Governor's Mansion in Hartford now, he is from the city of one of those above said mayors...
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    Goshen bought a PIERCE truck not long ago, two of my men thought it was beautyful Not a "local".

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    OK Trivia time. The stature is the RICO law - why?
    Because the Senator who introduced it was a fan of Jimmy Cagney, who in one movie (was it White Heat?) gets caught in a refinery fire. His last line was something like "OK Ma, I guess this is the end of little Rico! Top of the world, MA!"

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    Talking OOKAYYYYYY..............

    And all this time I thought Maryland had cornered the market on political mud..... Oh Well..... Stay Safe....
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    Humph. I always just figured it was assumed that anyone in charge of a municipality bigger than a "small town" was corrupt and did things they aren't supposed to. It's just the way it is. Thats why I find the Ganim trial wierd when people are all "Shocked".
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    ::sigh::

    Everybody's a critic.....

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