A D.C. fire lieutenant was arrested Thursday after authorities say he tried to fill a forged prescription at a Southern Maryland pharmacy — another black eye for the department that is facing widespread criticism and internal tensions.
Henry Claggett Dent, 35, who lives in Leonardtown, Md., was charged with drug possession, obtaining a prescription by fraud and possessing a forged prescription, court records show. Authorities say they seized 47 oxycodone pills, 18 fake prescriptions and six empty pill bottles from the D.C. fire lieutenant and his personal vehicle.
Capt. Daniel Alioto, the vice/narcotics commander at the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office, said Saturday that Dent was wearing his uniform when he was arrested, and investigators are working to determine whether he was coming to or leaving work, or if he wanted to represent himself as a firefighter so pharmacists would not raise questions about his forged prescriptions.
“We’re going to have to follow the trail now until we get everything together,” Alioto said.
Tim Wilson, a D.C. fire department spokesman, said Dent was placed on paid administrative leave shortly after officials found out about his arrest. He said he was unsure of Dent’s exact schedule and whether he would have been wearing his uniform because he was coming to or leaving work.
Dent’s arrest marks the second time this week a D.C. firefighter was charged with a crime, and it comes as the department is in a state of disarray over a string of recent failures. D.C. Council member and public safety committee chairman Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), a mayoral candidate, has joined others in calling for the fire chief to resign, rancor between rank and file and management seems to have reached a boiling point, and the department is still facing criticism over firefighters who failed to help 77-year-old Medric “Cecil” Mills Jr. when he collapsed outside a station in January and later died.
Investigators were first tipped to Dent’s alleged misdeeds on Tuesday, Alioto said, when someone was able to fill a forged prescription at a pharmacy in Hollywood, Md. Investigators noted the details of that prescription and contacted other local pharmacies, and were thus tipped off when a man in a D.C. fire uniform came to a Charlotte Hall, Md., pharmacy Thursday trying to fill a similar, faked prescription, Alioto said.
Police waited in the parking lot, Alioto said, as Dent left the pharmacy. They arrested him without incident, recovering the pills, fake prescriptions and empty bottles from his car, Alioto said. They also recovered a laptop, thumb drive and tablet, Alioto said.
The empty bottles seemed to come from other pharmacies in D.C. and Calvert and Prince George’s counties, Alioto said. He said investigators were working to determine how broad Dent’s scheme was.
Reached by phone, a relative of Dent declined to comment. No lawyer was listed for him in online court records. Alioto said Dent was processed and released after his arrest.
Court records show that another D.C. firefighter, 36-year-old Antwan D. Jordan, was also charged this week after a woman he knew alleged that he slapped her buttocks while they both were at Randle Highlands Elementary School on Feb. 26, picking up children. School security footage seemed to confirm the woman’s allegation in the case, showing a man in uniform slapping her buttocks after greeting some children who walked by.
Efforts to locate a working phone number for Jordan were unsuccessful. Online court records show he pleaded not guilty this week to a misdemeanor sexual abuse charge. Wilson, the fire department spokesman, said he was also placed on paid administrative leave shortly after fire officials became aware of the charge against him.
The Washington Times reported in late January that fire officials were planning to background check 1,800 employees in the wake of a series of arrests, many of which were not properly reported to the department.
Peter Hermann contributed to this story.