ROCK HALL — The former chief of the all-unpaid fire company here has been charged with conducting a theft scheme that netted him about $260 worth of gasoline, in less than a month, for his private vehicle.
Paul Brian Brinkley, 41, of Rock Hall, also is charged with nine counts of theft — one count for each of the times he allegedly used the Rock Hall Volunteer Fire Company’s Valero credit card to gas up his own vehicle at the Shore Stop convenience store in town.
His trial is Sept. 29 in the District Court for Kent County.
Brinkley was the fire chief at the time of the alleged offenses, May 6 to May 30.
He left the fire company at the end of June.
He was served a summons Aug. 26.
When interviewed by police July 17, Brinkley acknowledged using the RHVFC credit card to purchase gas nine times for his personal vehicle, according to court records. He described five of the purchases as reimbursement for fire company business or errands he did while using his personal vehicle.
Another of the purchases, he told police, was an error — he didn’t realize at the time that he was using the fire company’s credit card.
He had no explanation for the other three purchases, according to court records.
RHVFC officials, including the business manager, told police there is no policy for fuel reimbursement. The protocol is for the fire company member to purchase the fuel on his own dime and then turn in a receipt for consideration of reimbursement.
President William Bickley contacted the Rock Hall Police Department in June requesting an investigation into a possible theft and Brinkley’s involvement. The fire company’s board of directors tasked Bickley with reporting the theft to police.
Bickley told police that Brinkley was one of the fire company members who had been assigned a personal identification number to be used to purchase fuel for RHVFC vehicles.
The fire company primarily uses diesel-operated vehicles and has only two that use unleaded gasoline. The miles-per-gallon calculations for the gasoline-operated vehicles are typically low.
In reviewing monthly statements, Bickley noticed “an inordinate number of gasoline purchases made by Brinkley’s PIN,” according to court documents.
The Valero credit cards assigned to fire company vehicles are to remain in the vehicles at all times, though some of them were missing and had to be replaced, Bickley told police.
Surveillance video at the firehouse showed Brinkley allegedly removing a credit card from one of the gasoline-operated vehicles.
Brinkley was implicated after video from the Shore Stop was compared to the fire company’s credit card statements.