Board terminates Dighton fire chief facing criminal charges

Dighton Fire Chief Antone P. Roderick, Jr. seen shortly after receiving the President's Award from the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts. (Photo: Taunton Gazette | Mike Gay)

DIGHTON, Mass. (WPRI) — Dighton’s Board of Selectmen moved Wednesday to terminate the town’s fire chief as he faces criminal charges.

Fire Chief Antone Roderick, Jr. was suspended by the board in November amid accusations he used public funds to buy personal items, specifically clothes for his girlfriend.

Chairman Dean Cronin said it’s alleged Roderick used his own and other firefighters’ clothing allowances to buy almost $239 worth of women’s clothing.

The board said its decision to fire Roderick was not because of the charges, but rather due to his “unacceptable conduct” and betrayal of trust.

“We’re elected for three-year terms and are expected to represent the taxpayers and the residents of the town,” said Cronin. “When we feel their funds are being misused, inappropriate, then it’s our responsibility to step up and do something.”

“People, at least the ones who talked to me, reacted the way I did,” added board member Nancy Goulart. “And I felt disappointed, betrayed. I trusted him.”

The discrepancies were revealed during an audit of town finances, according to Cronin. He said the board brought the discrepancies to the office of Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn III, which in turn filed charges against Roderick including larceny, intimidation of a witness, and a public employee standards violation.

Prosecutors also say Roderick altered documents to cover up the purchases and lied about it to Massachusetts State Police.

Roderick has yet to publicly defend himself against the charges. Back in November, his lawyer, Andrew H. Lynch, said his client maintains his innocence.

Eyewitness News reached out to Roderick and Lynch for comment but was unable to get a hold of them.

The town held a disciplinary hearing to get Roderick’s side of the story, but Cronin said he never showed up.

“We’ve reached out to him, regular postal mail, phone calls were never returned,” he said.

According to Cronin, Roderick is a 20-year veteran of the fire department and has been chief for the past 11 years.

Acting Chief Michael Maguy will lead the Dighton Fire Department until a new chief is found.

Roderick is scheduled to appear in court March 1 for a pretrial conference.