Firefighter Gerald Paul Thoma Jr. charged with domestic violence [June 02, 2007]
Fire Captain Gerald Paul Thoma Jr. [Fruitport Township FD]
Original Charges: Charged with felony malicious destruction of a building. June 2003.
Sentence: Plea bargain. Pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors: operating a vehicle while impaired and malicious destruction of property causing $200 or more in damages stemming from that incident. He was sentenced to 45 days in the county jail and 24 months of probation
Reprimand from City of Fruitport/ FD: Placed on a 30-day unpaid suspension and had to sign a "last chance agreement" to keep his job. The agreement indicated Thoma couldn't use illegal substances or alcohol or become involved in any criminal activities for the "lifetime of his career" at the Fruitport Township Fire Department.
Fire captain again faces a criminal charge
By Heather L. VanDyke hvandyke@...
Friday, August 03, 2007
A Fruitport Township fire captain with a criminal record has been charged with domestic assault for allegedly punching his 16-year-old son.
Gerald Paul Thoma Jr., 43, was charged with the misdemeanor stemming from a June 2 incident in which he is accused of punching his son in the face during an argument.
Fire Chief Ken Doctor said Thursday that Thoma, who has been on the department for more than 20 years, is not suspended from his job and will continue to work as a fire captain on a full-time basis "for now." He declined further comment.
According to the police report, Thoma and his son got into an argument just before 11 p.m. that escalated into an alleged assault at their home at 3148 E. Pontaluna. The argument apparently was over whether the son could go to a skate park with friends, said Police Chief Paul Smutz.
Thoma's wife, Geraldine Thoma, told police she was at the home when the incident occurred but did not witness it, Smutz said. The son called 911.
The veteran fire captain -- who is 6 feet 1 inch tall, and weighs 230 pounds -- is accused of punching the teen in the nose three times, Smutz said. When officers arrived at the scene, "they saw blood coming from (the son's) nose, and it was swollen," Smutz said.
Township Supervisor Ron Cooper said Thoma's job is not in jeopardy at this time because he is "not convicted of anything.""If he is found to be guilty, then that could have an effect on his job," Cooper said. "I don't see why we would take a man's job away from him because he's been accused of something."
Cooper said he had not read the police report."It's an accusation," he said of the punching allegations. "The kid may have fallen on the floor, for all I know. It's a domestic thing. It's a discipline thing."It was not clear whether the teen indicated he wanted to press charges against his father, but in domestic assault cases, if there is physical evidence to support it "an arrest has to happen," Smutz said.
Thoma was arrested and lodged the same night in the Muskegon County Jail. A jury trial is slated for 9 a.m. Aug. 20 in 14th Circuit Court.
Thoma's June 2 arrest came about four years after his last run-in with the law.
In June 2003, Thoma was charged with a five-year felony for malicious destruction of a building causing more than $1,000 in damages.
Connie Smith, who was township supervisor at the time, did not take the incident lightly. Thoma was placed on a 30-day unpaid suspension and had to sign a "last chance agreement" to keep his job.
The agreement indicated Thoma couldn't use illegal substances or alcohol or become involved in any criminal activities for the "lifetime of his career" at the Fruitport Township Fire Department. It also required Thoma to continue a substance abuse treatment program he began after the June 14, 2003, incident. Cooper said he has looked at that agreement, but other township officials agreed no action should be taken at this time.
Thoma was arrested for ramming his Dodge truck into an acquaintance's house at 1479 S. Mill Iron in Muskegon Township. He also rammed the acquaintance's vehicle that night and returned to the same home days later to offer the victim money to "settle the matter" to reduce his criminal charge, police said.
Thoma pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors: operating a vehicle while impaired and malicious destruction of property causing $200 or more in damages stemming from that incident.
He was sentenced to 45 days in the county jail and 24 months of probation and was ordered to pay court costs and fines.