TIFFIN -- Police say there's enough evidence on videotape to charge a Seneca County Commissioner with theft after he reportedly stole Rolaids from a grocery store. But this may not be the only time it's happened. Clerks tell News 11 the suspect may have stolen the same thing from another store.
Tiffin Police say the videotape shows Seneca County Commissioner Michael Bridinger stealing Rolaids from the IGA store in Tiffin. They say the thefts happened at least three separate times in the first ten days of September. Bridinger's attorney has entered a "not guilty" plea on his behalf in court.
While that case winds its way through the court system, a manager for a Circle K convenience store in South Tiffin tells News 11 she and other clerks saw Bridinger steal Rolaids from her store. Brenda Reinhart says she and the clerks would call Bridinger the "Rolaids Theif," even to the point where the employees would see his car pull up and then, as reinhart says, "get ready" for Bridinger to come in.
Reinhart says after seeing Bridinger's picture in the paper on Thursday, she called police and told them about what she saw. "At least three or four of us who saw it happen and just couldn't believe it. We were blown away by it," said Reinhart. "It happened, I bet you, a couple time a week for a long period of time."
Reinhart says she would watch Bridinger in the store, and tip the other clerks that he had stolen something. "I was down the aisle and I just gave [the other clerk a signal,]" said Reinhart. "When he came up to the counter, [the other clerk asked] 'Is there anythng else?' He said no, and she said, 'Would you like to pay for the Rolaids you put in your pocket?'"
"He took them out and said, 'Oh, yeah,' and paid for them," said Reinhart. She says she didn't report the incident to police earlier because she says she was a lowly manager at a Circle k and Bridinger is a prominent person of the community.
Bridinger's attorney, Dean Henry, tells us he hasn't heard about that specific allegation. He went on to say in a phone interview that whenever he represents high-profile people, there are a ton of rumors that get tossed around.
Henry says Bridinger has no criminal record, a fact that was verified by the Tiffin Police, and that Bridinger had a clean criminal background check just recently.
Henry says he's glad we live in a country where we don't convict people on rumor and innuendo. If convicted on the misdemeanor charge, Bridinger could face six months in jail, and a $1,000 fine.
Count on News 11 to follow this case as it develops.