Police chief suspended without pay following arrest

Published 10:55 am Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Clanton’s police chief has been suspended without pay following his arrest Tuesday, according to Clanton Mayor Billy Joe Driver.

Brian Stilwell, who served as the city’s police chief since December 2008, has been charged with first-degree theft and one count fraudulent use of a credit card related to his position as treasurer with the local Fraternal Order of Police Smith/Dale Lodge 31.

C.J. Robinson with the 19th Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s office said investigators are still determining how much money is at issue.

“That’s still part of the ongoing investigation,” Robinson said. “Obviously, we determined that it was enough to warrant theft in the first degree charges (the charge carries a minimum of $2,500). We’re still obtaining and reviewing bank records.”

Robinson said the lodge maintained only one bank account, which was used for everything from paying utility bills to collecting and distributing funds for the lodge’s annual Operation Santa Claus effort, which provided Christmas gifts for children.

The fraudulent use of a credit card charge stems from a debit card connected to the lodge’s account, Robinson said.

Additional charges could be forthcoming, according to officials close to the situation.

The initial complaint was made to Robinson by a representative of the lodge, he said. Because of his familiarity with Stilwell, and Stilwell’s position, Robinson and Chilton County Sheriff John Shearon forwarded the information to Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s investigative division, the Alabama Bureau of Investigations.

The investigation began around the first of March, Robinson said.

ABI is asking businesses and individuals who made donations to the lodge for its Operation Santa Claus effort in the past four years to call 800-392-8011. Those who were members of the lodge in the past four years are also asked to contact ABI.

Keith Maddox has been named acting chief in Stilwell’s absence. Maddox previously served as deputy chief.

Clanton’s mayor said the City Council would likely address the situation at its next regular meeting, on May 11.

Driver said there has been no indication of criminal wrongdoing by Stilwell in his position as police chief.

“I thought he did a good job, and I’m very disappointed,” Driver said.

Driver said police department funds are all under the oversight of either the mayor’s office and city council, or the municipal court.

Stilwell’s bond was set at $15,000.

Check ClantonAdvertiser.com for updates on this developing story.