LYNNFIELD — Firefighter John H. Walsh, who witnesses say walked naked into a Rhode Island convenience store to buy a soda, will retire next month after four decades on the force.
In a terse two-sentence statement, the town’s attorney said “Lynnfield has completed its investigation concerning Captain Walsh. He will come off administrative leave and retire in July.”
The trouble began in April when a clerk at a 7-Eleven in Middleton, R.I., dialed 911 to report a nude man approached the register with his genitals exposed, smiled and bought a Coca Cola.
Within minutes of leaving the store, his black Mercedes Benz was pulled over by police. When asked by the officer why he was being stopped, Walsh said, “it was probably because I went into the store to buy a Coke naked,” according to the police report.
The police report says when asked, Walsh admitted entering the store naked on a dare from his girlfriend.
Walsh was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.
In an interview with The Item, the 60-year-old Lynnfield resident denied the charge. The surveillance equipment at the store was not working the day of the incident, police said.
A New Jersey man said he was in the store at the time of the incident, according to court documents. In a letter to the court, James Dooling said he was ahead of Walsh in line and was waited on by a young male clerk. Walsh, he said, paid at the woman’s register.
“The man behind me was certainly naked,” Dooling wrote. “Without saying a word to me, he stepped up to the counter, paid for a soda and left …”
Within hours of the allegation, Walsh was placed on paid administrative leave by Fire Chief Glenn Davis pending an investigation.
“I hold my staff to a very high standard,” Davis said at the time. “Beyond that, I can’t comment on personnel matters.”
Last month, multiple sources confirmed Walsh was considering an agreement that would allow him to retire with full benefits. It’s unclear how much his pension is worth. He earned $130,818 with overtime last year, according to town records.
Walsh did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Still, his troubles are not over. He faces a pretrial conference on Friday, June 21 at the Second Division District Court in Newport.
State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said firefighters, like all public servants, must be worthy of the public’s trust.
“It’s fair to say the public has high expectations of public safety personnel,” he said. “For the most part, firefighters rise to that challenge.”