Charles Sheriff Police Beat / Purchasing Agent for Charles County Was Really Cleaning Up with Stolen Toilet Paper

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Charles County Sheriff Police Beat

Purchasing Agent for Charles County Was Really Cleaning Up

 Top Level Theft Not Rare in Charles County Government

Amusement Park GovernmentHUGHESVILLE, MD. – According to police, a top-level supervisor in the Charles County Government has been running a wholesale supply business out of his home which was stocked with stolen goods purloined from the taxpayers via his job duties as the county buyer of janitorial supplies.

This isn’t the first time a top official of Charles County has been charged with embezzlement or theft of county property. The County Administrator, Melvin S. Bridgett, was charged in 1992 with stealing $150,000 from the county-run golf course in White Plains.  Charles County Commissioner Marland Deen (R.) Waldorf was nabbed in 2000 for stealing over $1,200 worth of gasoline from county fuel pumps for his personal use in his own vehicles and tractor.

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Charles County Sheriff’s investigators are assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division have charged Eric Bernard Riley, 51, of Hughesville in connection with the theft of more than $10,000 worth of cleaning products and supplies while he was serving as the Custodial Superintendent of Charles County facilities.

In June 2015, Charles County Government officials notified the CCSO about a possible theft scheme involving Mr. Riley.

An immediate investigation was launched and detectives subsequently determined Riley had been stealing cleaning products.

 Investigators established Riley altered purchase orders by slightly increasing the number of items needed at each facility or by switching out the types of products listed on the purchase order for items he could sell at discounted prices from his home.

During the investigation, detectives set up surveillance and perused thousands of documents. On Aug. 5, 2015, a search warrant was conducted at Riley’s house in the 14000 block of Shelwick Place in Hughesville.

Cases of cleaning supplies, toilet paper, dish soap, and laundry detergent were recovered. On January 13, a criminal summons was issued charging Riley with theft over $10,000. No other county employees were involved in the thefts. Det. E. Clark investigated.

The former county administrator of Charles County, Md., pleaded guilty on March 16, 1993, in Charles County Circuit Court, to stealing $155,799 from the cash register at the county golf course and was sentenced to three years in prison.

The indictment against Melvin S. Bridgett said the thefts started in 1989 and continued until his arrest in August of 1992.

Bridgett, the chief executive of the county government and highest-paid employee, operated the cash register on weekends at the White Plains Regional Golf Course pro shop. He was arrested Aug. 16, 1992, after police secretly filmed him removing cash from the register and putting it in his pocket.

According to records, Melvin S. Bridgett, 43, made restitution by mortgaging three properties to the county for $85,000 and immediately handing over a check for $43,000. The government had seized $27,000 from his home and pockets when he was arrested.

The Sheriff’s investigators set up a video trap for Charles County Administrator Melvin S. Bridgett, according to charging documents.

Bridgett was videotaped removing “cash paper bills from the public golf course “Pro Shop cash register and {placing} that cash into his right front shorts pocket,” according to the statement of charges filed by Detective Sgt. Joseph Montminy of the county sheriff’s office.

On Aug. 9, 1992, Bridgett allegedly stole an estimated $800; the next day, $780. And when he was videotaped in the act again, police arrested him in a mall parking lot with $350 in marked bills in his pocket and then went to his home, where they found and seized $10,000 in cash, the statement says.

Bridgett, represented by attorney John Mudd, struck a plea deal with Charles County States Attorney Leonard Collins and also forfeited his county pension, accrued annual leave, and medical benefits. By the county’s reckoning, the restitution and lost benefits will cost Bridgett a total of $603,000.

The five county commissioners, three of whom had selected Bridgett for the top-ranking county post in January 1988, said in a joint statement that they hoped the disposition of the case “sends a strong message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated at any level of government in Charles County. …”

Not long afterward, one of the commissioners was caught on tape stealing gas from the county gas pumps by filling large containers in the back of his county-provided sedan to use in his other vehicles.

Charles County Commissioner Marland Deen was well-liked and dedicated. While rules allowed him to use a county-provided car with taxpayer fuel, he went a step further in stealing gas for his tractor.

Charles County Commissioner Marland Deen was well-liked and dedicated. While rules allowed him to use a county-provided car with taxpayer fuel, he went a step further in stealing gas for his tractor.

Commissioner Marland Deen, three times elected to the post of commissioner, at the age of 66, pleaded guilty in 2001 to theft and in a plea deal was given five years’ probation and avoided jail by paying $1,600 for gas he stole from the county pumps. Deen admitted he was dumb to take the gas and took responsibility, saying his actions were foolish and stupid.

Detectives had videotaped him filling gas cans in the back seat of his car, which essentially made him a rolling bomb. Deen was well liked and re-elected by the voters to the post of commissioner after serving two months in jail for running illegal slot machines in his store on Rt. 925 in Waldorf. Deen had been charged with operating illegal video gambling machines at Deen’s Little Store in 1984. Two other prominent Charles County names — deputy sheriff John T. Hindle and John L. Sprague, the brother of state delegate Michael Sprague (D-Charles Co.), were caught up in the gambling raid. Deputy Hindle was operating the illegal slot machine at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge in La Plata.

Following his theft conviction, Deen never ran for office again. He was accused of running a rental property without heat and water where a baby died but was exonerated when the medical examiner ruled the cause of death to be sudden infant death syndrome.

Bridgett, following his release from prison, began running a country store near La Plata and a marina on the Potomac.

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