A Montgomery County grand jury has indicted a former District of Columbia police officer who served as a volunteer fireman for the Wheaton Rescue Squad on charges that he stole and embezzled over $100,000 from the squad over three years, using the money to buy automobiles, motorcycles and guns.
According to the two-count indictment, Thomas Thorpe Raymond, 41, stole the money by diverting squad funds into a secret bank account from 1978 through June of this year, while he was serving as squad treasurer. State prosecutors said they are still investigating the squad's books all the way back to 1974, the first year Raymond took over the treasurer's job.
Raymond's indictment on one count of theft and one count of emezzlement apparently puts an end to an investigation that began during the first week of July, when the new squad treasurer first confronted his troops with the cash discrepancy and asked the county police to conduct an audit. The affair became the one dark spot on the proud tradition of the squad that boasts such strict discipline that it forbids its members to wear their uniforms in bars.
"Of course we weren't surprised, we knew what was going on," said Ed Worton, president of the Wheaton squad's board. "We have basically cleaned house." He added, "It's only partly solved. The second half is trying to get the money back."
Neither Raymond nor his attorney could be reached for comment yesterday. A spokesman in the state prosecutor's office said that they would be seeking a court order for Raymond's arrest.
Raymond resigned from the D.C. police force on July 8, about one week after the county police began investigating the missing funds. At the time, he cited personal reasons for leaving the force, according to a spokesman at the 4th District police station on Georgia Avenue in Northwest Washington. A spokesman there said Raymond had been on the police force for approximately 10 years.
Raymond, of 2212 Predella Drive in Silver Spring, was a life member of the Wheaton volunteer squad, meaning that he had been a member for so long that he was exempt from having to raise at least $2,000 for the squad each year, a quota for all the members.
According Nancy Moses of the Montgomery County police and deputy state's attorney Timothy E. Clarke, Raymond had for three years kept active one of the Wheaton squad's dormant bank accounts at the Suburban Trust Co. in Wheaton. Whenever money came in for the squad, some of it got diverted into the second account, which Raymond, as treasurer, could withdraw from, they said.
Since then, the squad has instituted new rules, to reduce the likelihood of future treasurers being tempted to try the same thing. Now, for instance, two signatures instead of one are required to withdraw funds or write checks from the Wheaton squad account.