Thursday, September 1, 2005

Former deputy chief destroys evidence

Published in the Current

CAPE ELIZABETH (Sep 1, 2005): A former Cape Elizabeth deputy fire chief who works for the Scarborough Fire Department has pleaded guilty to destroying a computer hard drive before police could examine it as part of an investigation.

Mark Stults, 41, of Woodland Road pled guilty last month to a misdemeanor charge of falsifying physical evidence in December 2004, according to documents in Cumberland County Superior Court.

In 2004, he was deputy chief of the Cape Elizabeth Fire Department, a post he resigned earlier a couple months ago, according to Cape Elizabeth Fire Chief Phil McGouldrick. Stults has not been on any fire calls with the department in recent months, McGouldrick said.

Stults works as a paramedic with the Scarborough Fire Department. Scarborough Fire Chief Mike Thurlow said he did not know about the court case and called Stults “a model employee.”

The charge accused Stults of knowing an official investigation was pending or ongoing and altering, destroying, concealing or removing items relevant to the investigation, the subject of which is not disclosed in court records.

Assistant Cumberland County District Attorney Robert "Bud" Ellis said investigators were following up on a tip when they attempted to search Stults's computer.

“Before an investigation could be done … the hard drive on the computer had been removed and disposed of,” Ellis said.

Stults declined to comment Tuesday, saying it was “a family matter.”

His sentencing has been put off for a year, according to court records.

Cape Elizabeth police Capt. Brent Sinclair said the department had handled the investigation, but would not elaborate, saying only that “the case has been adjudicated.”

Sinclair said Stults has not been charged with any other crimes, and said the Cape police investigation is over.