Dighton Fire Chief Antone Roderick was arraigned Tuesday in Taunton District Court on charges that he used his official clothing allowance to purchase women’s workout clothes and lied about it to police, according to the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office.
Roderick was arraigned on two counts of presenting a fraudulent claim to an employer, one count of larceny under $250 and one count of making false statements to police. He was released on his own recognizance, the Taunton Gazette reported.
Roderick did not return a call to the fire station seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.
According to a report by Trooper Michael Reynolds of the state police detectives unit assigned to the DA’s office, the investigation centered around three invoices totaling $238 that Roderick submitted to the town of Dighton for four items of women’s clothing between Sept. 15 – Sept. 21.
The case was brought to the DA’s attention by the town’s attorney after Dighton town accountant Jennifer Luiz became suspicious when she noticed a clothing invoice submitted by Roderick for a $99.99 jacket that appeared to have the word “women’s” whited out and the word “men’s” handwritten in, according to Reynolds’ report.
On another invoice for a $45 pair of women’s Nike capris, the letters “wo” were whited out, leaving just a blank space before the word “men’s.” One invoice listed a $34.50 item simply as a “Tommie Copper,” which turned out to be a women’s “tube top style item,” according to Reynolds’ report. The final item was a women’s compression camisole for $59.50.
According to Reynolds’ report, Roderick told Reynolds that he had purchased the items for himself because they fit better after he lost a lot of weight.
Roderick said he suffered from knee and hip pain and used the tube top and compression camisole around his waist for support when he runs, the report said.
Reynolds said the fire chief demanded while he was being interviewed that he be allowed to try on the clothing to demonstrate that it fit him.
“Chief Roderick was able to put the clothes on but in manners that don’t appear to be the intended use for the clothing,” Reynolds said in his report.
Roderick admitted to signing all the invoices and admitted to writing in “men’s” on the jacket invoice because he was embarrassed to be buying a women’s jacket for himself, Reynolds said, but Roderick denied altering on the other invoices.
Reynolds said he also interviewed Roderick’s girlfriend in September. She told him at first that she did not think Roderick had given any of the women’s clothing items to her, Reynolds said in his report. But at a later date, she said she had checked again and realized he had given her the
capri pants but Roderick himself wore the jacket and he had not given her the compression items, which she could not wear anyway due to back problems.
Roderick’s attorney is listed in court documents as Andrew Lynch of Lynch & Lynch of Easton. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
The case was continued for a pretrial conference on March 1.