Police: Sex offender impersonated member of Richfield Fire Department to solicit donations

Posted at 11:03 AM, Jul 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-12 09:22:26-04

Richfield police are investigating a registered sex offender who may be posing as a firefighter and scamming residents out of their money.

Authorities said they've received complaints about a man who goes by the name of Wood Thomas. His actual names is Gary Thomas. 

Detectives said Thomas, 54, has been going around upscale neighborhoods identifying himself as an Air Force veteran and Richfield firefighter and collecting $25 donations for the department. In exchange, residents receive reflective address markers.

At least two residents fell for the scam. 

"He was not turning the funds into the fire department, nor does he represent the fire department," said Richfield Police Lt. Joe Davis.

Thomas has not been charged in Richfield, but remains under investigation, Davis said.

News 5 has also learned that Thomas is scheduled to go on trial in Wadsworth next month for theft and impersonating an officer for allegedly soliciting donations on behalf of the Sharon Township Fire Department in Medina County.

Records show Thomas was convicted of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor in 2008 and is registered as a sex offender in Summit County.

"Because he is a registered sex offender, there are concerns as to what his ulterior motive may be," Davis said.

Police ask that anyone who had contact with or gave a donation to Thomas to contact Detective Amy Ellis at 330-659-9500.