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Retired NJ Firefighter Accused Of Stealing Memorabilia From Fire Museum, Selling It Online

BAYONNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - A 64-year-old retired battalion chief is accused of stealing a number of pieces from the John T. Brennan Fire Museum in Bayonne and selling them online.

Officials say the exact value of the items wasn't immediately clear but "is said to be significant," according to police.

Many of the items haven't been recovered, authorities said.

paul avery
Retired Battalion Chief Paul Avery. (credit: CBS2)

According to a published report, Paul Avery, of Tenafly, retired in 2017 after 36 years with the Bayonne Fire Department and was receiving a $129,813 annual pension. Investigators believe he started swiping items in 2016. A source tells CBS2 he was very involved in the museum, and helped to build display cases and refinish the inside for its 100th anniversary.

"The brotherhood is something we're serious about, dedicated to, and hold near and dear," Bayonne Fire Captain Don Haiber said. "One member of the organization is never a reflection of the whole."

It wasn't immediately clear if a conviction would affect Avery's pension. Officials say the museum will remain closed until the police investigation is complete.

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