The Mattapoisett Police Department has filed for criminal charges against Fire Inspector Lieutenant Patrick Saltmarsh for allegedly stealing $1,345.76 from the Firefighter’s Association, and Saltmarsh could possibly face six counts of embezzlement from an association.
According to a February 28 press release written by Police Chief Mary Lyons, newly-elected association members in January spotted what they considered to be several dubious withdrawals upon reviewing bank account transactions made during the time when Saltmarsh was treasurer of the Firefighter’s Association.
Lyons stated that association members discovered an unusual credit card payment to the Department of Revenue, which raised a red flag because the Firefighter’s Association is a tax-exempt organization, stated Lyons.
“As they continued to audit the account, four ATM transactions were identified as unusual,” Lyons stated, “because it was not the practice of the association to use the automated teller machine to conduct business.” Lyons specified that Saltmarsh was in charge of the ATM card while he was association treasurer.
“Lt. Saltmarsh did cooperate with the police during this investigation,” stated Lyons. “He did not deny making the transactions.”
Saltmarsh’s Attorney Philip Beauregard said during a March 3 phone interview that he is concerned about how town officials have handled the situation since the beginning, citing “unusual circumstances” over how the association investigation led straight to police involvement, specifically the embezzlement charge of $20.
Beauregard questioned the police decision to prosecute “as opposed to asking [Saltmarsh], ‘did you make a mistake and would you like to pay it back?’”
“We wouldn’t have pursued charges if we didn’t feel that he was guilty,” said Lyons during a phone interview on February 28. “We’re sure that he took the money. He didn’t deny it.”
Beauregard told The Wanderer the $20 transaction paid for a Firefighter’s seminar.
“And they’re saying that’s embezzlement,” said Beauregard.
“He had a lot of excuses for why he did it,” said Lyons. “In the end, they just don’t all add up.”
Saltmarsh has not yet been formally charged with embezzlement; rather, Beauregard emphasized that police have filed the criminal complaints with the Fourth District Court in Wareham, and on March 11 a judge will decide if Saltmarsh is to be formally charged.
Saltmarsh was placed on paid administrative leave prior to the embezzlement accusations for an unrelated issue that is still under investigation.
Beauregard stated that earlier this year, Saltmarsh was notified of a medical emergency by a citizen who ran across the street asking for assistance. According to Beauregard, Saltmarsh responded by calling the police, the Town’s designated primary first responder for emergencies, who is responsible for calling and dispatching the ambulance.
According to Beauregard, Saltmarsh was faulted for not running across the street himself to respond to the call for help, as Saltmarsh could hear the sirens of the police approaching to the scene.
“He believed the situation was under control,” said Beauregard.
The Wanderer left several voicemails to Town Administrator Michael Gagne and Fire Chief Andrew Murray for clarification on the matter, to which they did not reply.
By Jean Perry