CENTREVILLE — A former firefighter received a suspended jail sentence and was ordered to pay a $1,500 fine after secretly recording a fire department meeting.
James Robert Hurlock, 31, of Crumpton entered an Alford Plea and was found guilty of of violating Maryland wiretap laws in Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court on Jan. 4. On Feb. 21, Judge Thomas G. Ross sentenced Hurlock to 18 months of incarceration, suspended all of it and order him to pay a fine.
In an Alford plea, the defendant maintains his or her innocence while acknowledging that the state possesses enough evidence to convict him or her at trial.
The conviction stems from an investigation conducted by the Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney’s Office into the planting of electronic recording devices inside the Crumpton Volunteer Fire Department. Hurlock was a member of the department at the time and surreptitiously hid a camera and listening device inside the fire department meeting room to secretly record an executive board meeting, according to Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney Lance Richardson, who prosecuted the case.
The board meeting was set for Nov. 17, 2018, to discuss Hurlock’s alleged violations of fire department rules, Richardson said.
On Dec. 2, 2018, several fire department members were communicating on the Crumpton Members Facebook page. During the posting to the Facebook page, Hurlock posted a video from his personal Facebook account that depicted the Crumpton Volunteer Fire Department meeting room and the executive board meeting that was held on Nov. 14, 2017. The posted video was viewed by several members of the department and was reported to have contained both visual and audio recording of the executive board meeting.
About 30 minutes after the video was posted by Hurlock, he removed it from the Facebook Page. Members of the department were unable to save the video before it was removed from the Facebook page, but they did take photographs and/or screenshots of the posted video, verifying that the video was in fact posted by James Hurlock.
Fire department surveillance footage was subsequently reviewed and Hurlock was captured on video entering the meeting room on Nov. 17, 2018, several hours before the scheduled board meeting. Hurlock was seen planting a camera and listening device within the meeting room. Video surveillance then captured Hurlock entering the meeting room the following morning to remove the secret camera and listening device.
A search and seizure warrant was served on Facebook for the account postings of James (Jimmy) Hurlock, and the results produced two videos, containing audio, that were posted by Hurlock of the Crumpton Volunteer Fire Department Executive Board meeting that was held on Nov. 14, 2017.
Hurlock was subsequently questioned about the planting of the devices in the meeting room and admitted to authorities that he placed the devices in the meeting room, Richardson said.
The Crumpton Volunteer Fire Department’s website does not list Hurlock as a current member.