By Joe Beck
A volunteer firefighter with Warren County Fire and Rescue Services has been charged in General District Court with fraud and theft in a case involving gasoline purchases for his own car that authorities say he paid for with a department credit card.
Court documents state that Justin Irby, 30, of 1447 Cedar Drive, Front Royal used a credit card from Front Royal Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 to buy more than $1,121 in gasoline.
Irby appeared in court Wednesday for a hearing to schedule another court appearance. His next court date is set for June 12.
Fire and rescue service officials said the investigation was triggered by the department's own routine examination of financial records regularly submitted to them.
"We noticed some abnormal and unusual use on a particular credit card," Fire Chief Richard Mabie said, adding, "This was a fire department investigation and we brought in the Warren County Sheriff's Office."
Irby was suspended on March 13 and will be banned from participating in all department activities, including training and fundraisers, until the case is resolved in court, Mabie said.
A criminal complaint written by Sheriff's Office Investigator Gordon T. Foster states that fire and rescue officials noticed a credit card assigned to a department car was missing. Foster wrote that further investigation revealed that the card had been used from September 2012 to March 2013.
The card's use was traced to a Handy Mart on Commerce Avenue near the fire station in Front Royal, according to the complaint. On March 13, Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico identified Irby entering the store on a videotape recorded a few days before, the complaint states. The complaint also states that the card had been used only a few minutes before Irby entered the store.
Foster wrote that he saw Irby using a gasoline pump at the Handy Mart on March 16. After Maiatico, he confirmed by a receipt from the Handy Mart that the card in question had been used at the same time.
The complaint states that Foster stopped Irby in his car a few days later and asked to see all the credit cards he used to buy gasoline. A card Irby pulled from the glove box matched the stolen credit card, according to the complaint.
Irby admitted in an interview on March 20 that he took the credit card and used it for personal purposes from Sept 2010 to March 2013, according to the complaint.
Irby remains free on bail.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org