Colonie volunteer firefighter faces charges in theft of turnout gear
Updated 9:15 p.m.
COLONIE A volunteer firefighter has been arrested, accused of taking equipment from his department and selling it to a pawn shop, police said.
James E. Turley Jr., 39, was arrested Monday by Colonie Police and charged with one count of third-degree grand larceny, a felony.
Turley had been a member of the Shaker Road-Loudonville Fire Department for two or three years, the department’s chief said.
Turley is accused of taking the items from the department — most of it gear assigned to him — and selling them to X Change Cash and Trade, 1121 Central Ave. In all, he is accused of netting more than $3,600, selling seven helmets, a fire jacket, a pair of fire trousers, gloves, air mask face piece and a harness and rescue system.
Turley, of 592 Central Ave., allegedly told employees at the shop that the gear was from a nearby fire station that was closing. He had removed patches and other items that would have indicated its actual origin, Colonie Police Lt. Robert Winn said.
All but the excess helmets were issued to Turley by the Shaker Road-Loudonville Fire Department, Fire Chief Dave Leonardo said. The department has two stations and firefighters are issued gear for each station, he said. The extra helmets were taken from a storage area.
Police were alerted last week when a member of another fire department heard about the items and began asking questions. Shaker Road-Loudonville wasn’t aware the items were missing until being notified.
All of the items have been sold online by the shop, which has been cooperating with police, Winn said; police are working to get the items back.
Turley’s father, James E. Turley Sr., served 26 years with the Albany Police Department. He was its chief from May 2004 to December 2005, when he retired.
In August 2001, the younger Turley was in the news when he was arrested after a traffic stop, accused of illegally possessing a handgun. The gun belonged to an Albany police officer, the younger Turley’s brother-in-law, with whom he was living at the time in Colonie, authorities said then. Turley Jr. later pleaded guilty to an attempted weapons possession count and was sentenced to 18 months in state prison.
Leonardo said volunteer departments are barred from conducting full background checks on prospective firefighters. The only thing they’re allowed to check is if candidates have any arson-related convictions. Asked if he thought that should change, Leonardo said the more information a department is allowed to research, the better decision it can make.
Turley Jr. was arraigned and ordered held on $10,000 bail. He is to reappear in court today.