Cumberland Times-News

Columns

July 12, 2014

Get on with it

Find out what led to folding of McCoole VFD

— Now that Maryland State’s Attorney General Doug Gansler has been asked to help with the investigation of the McCoole Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department it is our hope that the probe regains traction.

State Sen. George Edwards and Del. Wendell Beitzel sent a letter to Gansler asking for his assistance in investigating alleged misappropriation of funds and the subsequent demise of the fire department.

Last year, it appeared that the investigation was moving rapidly. The grand jury was asked to investigate but indictments were never handed down. Allegany County State’s Attorney Michael Twigg said a lack of resources has been a primary problem in the case.

Twigg said it could take a forensic accountant up to a year to go through all of the financial records of the department. He also said such an investigation would require an expenditure of $50,000. He said with funding tight for his agency and law enforcement, the cost is a challenge.

Given the demise of the fire company and debts of nearly $1 million, we believe hiring an expert to go over the financial records is the proper course of action. An allegation of serious criminal offenses should not be left unanswered because of a lack of resources. Beitzel agrees, telling the Times-News, “If there is something inappropriate and you don’t have the resources, do you let people get away?”

Beitzel said he intends to follow up with the attorney general’s office about his request for help in the investigation. It will be in the interest of public trust for Gansler and Twigg to now move forward to get to the bottom of the McCoole allegations.

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