MINGO COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – A fire chief in Mingo County is speaking out after a man was charged for allegedly impersonating a paramedic this month.
Last week, Christopher Lee Linn, also known as Christopher Lee Beckinsale, was charged with grand larceny, obtaining goods under false pretenses and impersonating a paramedic, according to the Mingo County Sheriff’s Office.
According to a criminal complaint, Christopher Lee Linn, also known as Christopher Beckinsale, made a TikTok video on Feb. 2, 2023, saying that he was a paramedic and “provided care to an unknown individual.” The complaint says that Linn is not a paramedic in the state of West Virginia or any other state, confirmed by the Office of Medical Services for West Virginia through the national Emergency Services registry.
Wharncliffe Volunteer Fire Department Chief Joshua Vance tells WOWK 13 News that Linn allegedly began showing up to emergency scenes the Baisden, Gilbert and Wharncliffe fire departments were responding to around the beginning of the year. He says after a few instances, first responders confronted Linn, telling him to either to join a department or stop freelancing.
According to Vance, when Linn joined his department under a 90-day probation, he allegedly said he had credentials in his home state. When he did not provide those alleged credentials, Vance said he gave Linn equipment to use in a class he had to take before responding to calls..
Vance says he then became aware of Linn’s TikTok videos as “Christopher Beckinsale” that are critical of emergency response in the Mountain State. As Linn gained attention from those videos, Vance said he learned Linn had been previously convicted on felony charges. Vance says while the law now allows those with felony convictions to become firefighters, some of the charges were “questionable” and Linn had not mentioned them in his application.
In August of 2016, a man with the same name was sentenced to 58 months in prison for firearm and identity theft charges. According to the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia, Christopher Lee Linn pleaded guilty to one count of false statement in the acquisition of a firearm and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Vance’s full statement to WOWK on the matter is below:
“Christopher Beckinsale started showing up to my departments and the surrounding departments calls around the first of the year. He would get on scene around or right before most of us would arrive to them. Which struck us all as odd. He had no affiliation with any department in this county at that time.
After him showing up on scenes a few times, we confronted him about it. We told him it’s fine if he wants to join, but he had to either join a department or stop freelancing. He was showing up to my department’s calls, Baisdens, and Gilbert’s. He ended up joining Baisden first, then a couple weeks later he joined my department at Wharncliffe. He told me he had prior fire department training and had contacted the West Virginia State Fire Marshals office to get his certs transferred from his home state. He also stated he was a paramedic in his home state and WV. Which later he failed to provide any type of certification, and the state he said he was certified in was not transferable to WV.
I issued him a complete set of turnout gear which was brand new at the time and had never been used. I told him the gear was for him to participate in a class he had signed up for to get his WV certification and he was not to run calls until he completed it or until he got his prior certifications switched to WV. Whichever came first.
The night he joined my department, he understood that he was on a 90-day probation period with the department. That 90 days period would determine his membership. He understood that if any information of crimes or if he was doing things, he had no authority for he would be terminated.
The Tik Tok video he posted about an ambulance service in Mingo county drew attention to him. He also claimed to be a paramedic in a Tik Tok video. I’m not sure if it was the same one about the ambulance service or not.
It was later brought to my attention that he had felonies on him. Although a judge in WV overturned the law which prohibited felons from joining a volunteer department, some of the charges he was showing was questionable because they’re stipulations to that law. He failed to disclose any of those felony charges on his application for the department. He failed to disclose any information of a name change. He would not respond to me, but he would respond to other people I had present with me at that time.
During this time, the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department was involved because of all the information that had arisen about him. I felt since they were already involved that they were the best route to go by to recover my fire department equipment. Like him, I’m looking forward to resolving this matter in court.”Wharncliffe Volunteer Fire Department Chief Joshua Vance
On Friday, March 24, 13 News reached out to Linn via social media and he provided us with the following statement:
I am contacting you directly. The situation in Mingo County will be dealt with in court. My attorney has advised me to keep comments to a minimum, but I can without a doubt verify that the accusations are fully baseless, and that there are multiple outright verifiable lies in the documents submitted to law enforcement. This is nothing more than character assasination [sic] as a result of being a whistleblower on the state of EMS and fire coverage in Mingo County. We will be dealing with this matter as per the court’s request, and then vigorously beginning civil litigation for all necessary parties for character assasination, [sic] libel, defamation, et al.Christopher Lee Linn, also known as Christopher Beckinsale,