Career Captain Pleads Guilty To Stealing From Brother Firefighters

On Friday, a Camden, New Jersey fire captain pled guilty to larceny charges for having stolen an undetermined amount of “house funds” that belonged to firefighters. Captain John Merklein was placed on probation as part of a plea agreement that prohibits him from future public employment in New Jersey.

Merklein had been a Camden firefighter for more than 20 years, and was in charge of a fund intended to take care of fire house expenses like food, supplies and other items that are not budgeted by the department. Each firefighter contributes $30 per month through payroll deduction to fund the account. The theft was discovered when Merklein was transferred and a new firefighter was assigned to be in charge of the fund.

An investigation could not determine on long the larceny had been happening, but Merklein paid restitution of $27,000 shortly after the discrepancies came to light. He was also dismissed from the department.

For more on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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