Alleged Burglars Suspended From Fire Department
Suspended firefighters to appear in municipal court in March.
William R. Meier, 26, and John B. Futcher III, 20, were arrested on Feb. 22 and each charged with burglary, criminal mischief, possession of burglary tools, theft and receiving stolen property after police said they stole more than $5,000 worth of personal safety items from the firehouse.
Meier is the son of Butler Councilman Robert Meier.
Bail was set at $75,000 each with no 10 percent option and both were sent to the Morris County jail. Butler police said Meier is also currently serving probation for a prior incident, which, according to Suburban Trends, includes a 2010 conviction of third-degree assault by auto, driving while suspended and leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident. He was sentenced by Judge Thomas V. Manahan to one year in prison.
A Butler Municipal Court clerk said they are both scheduled to appear for the first time on the charges in municipal court on March 14 but the cases will then be moved to the Morris County Court.
Futcher is out on bail but declined comment Wednesday afternoon and a call to Meier Wednesday was not immediately returned.
"The letters were mailed out [Tuesday] that they will be suspended pending the outcome of the case," Alviene said.
Fire Chief Jim Neill said Meier has been a volunteer with the department for about eight years and Futcher has been with the department for about two. He said the police are continuing their investigation and the fire department is relying on the authorities to handle the case.
"We've got to take it one step at a time and, naturally, we have legal counsel to guide us," Neill said.
Neill said the suspension of Futcher and Meier means there are three Butler Fire Department members suspended until the outcomes of court proceedings are determined.
The other suspended member is former Fire Inspector Earl Dean who was indicted by a Morris County judge on charges of second-degree official misconduct, third-degree tampering with public records and fourth-degree falsifying or tampering with public records after he was arrested last March by the Morris County Prosecutor's Office for allegedly falsifying fire inspection certificates and reports for seveal Butler businesses. Neill said Dean's last two court dates have been postponed and the final outcome of the case has not yet been determined.
Alviene added that while it is unfortunate that it is two Butler firefighters being accused of burglary of their own department, this incident is not reflective of the entire department.
"It just hurts to hear this, especially since it's some of our own," he said. "We'll move forward. I dont want to judge a whole fire department for two individuals."