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Fire chief says this is a "sad day"

 
Fire chief says this is a
Posted May 16th, 2013 @ 4:59pm

(Cleveland) - Fire Chief Daryl McGinnis held a brief news conference this afternoon to address the indictment of 13 firefighters.

McGinnis says this is a "sad day for the Cleveland Fire Department", but adds that the department will recover and move forward.

McGinnis says changes are being made to prevent shift sharing abuses, and the indicted firefighters will be replaced without sacrificing public safety.

He contends the indictments are not a reflection of the fire department as a whole.

McGinnis says changes are being made to prevent shift sharing abuses, and the indicted firefighters will be replaced without sacrificing public safety.

He contends the indictments are not a reflection of the fire department as a whole.

The 13 firefighters were each indicted Wednesday on one count of theft in office, a felony of the third degree, and one count of soliciting or receiving improper compensation, a first degree misdemeanor. 

Chief Daryl McGinnis

The indictments were announced by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty.

In July 2011, an audit was conducted by the Cleveland Division of Internal Audit and subsequently turned over to the Internal Affairs Unit of the Cleveland Police Department. The audit was conducted to assess the Cleveland Division of Fire’s policies and procedures pertaining to personnel and payroll activities.

Cleveland hired a former Federal Prosecutor as Special Investigator. As a result of his investigation, it was discovered that these individuals paid their own co-workers for working shifts that were assigned to them.

The audit revealed, from 2006 through 2010, that at a minimum, these thirteen firefighters each failed to work 2,000 hours (approximately one year) of their scheduled time. The most serious case was Calvin Robinson, who failed to work 8,456 hours (approximately 4 ½ years) of compensated time.

During this time period, the defendants received their yearly salary, health insurance, vacation and sick time, clothing allowance, and pension money all at a cost to the City of Cleveland.

These investigations uncovered the abuse of firefighters paying others to do their job for them which allowed each of these defendants to have a second full time job and earn two separate incomes. Shift trading is allowed under strict conditions.

Firefighters are permitted to trade one shift for another with approval by a supervisor who assures that the firefighter is not working multiple continuous shifts and is physically capable of performing under stress. By city rule, all shifts must be paid back within one year by re-working that shift. A firefighter cannot hire out his job or sell shifts as these defendants did. These firefighters disregarded the rules by paying someone else tax-free cash under the table to do their work for them while they accumulated all the job benefits as if they had worked that year themselves. 

Prosecutor McGinty said, “The public’s trust was violated. In addition to not working and receiving full pay, these individuals abused the system and collected retirement, vacation, medical and other benefits. They caused other firefighters to work multiple days without rest. Fatigued firefighters put the safety of the people who are in danger at risk as well as their fellow firefighters.” 

The following is a statement from the city of Cleveland regarding the indictiments:

Given that this is now a matter before the court, the City of Cleveland will not comment on the pending cases regarding the 13 firefighters indicted today by the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury. These firefighters will be immediately relieved of duty. An administrative pre-disciplinary hearing will be scheduled, at which time it is expected the firefighters will be suspended without pay pending adjudication of the charges in accordance with established city policy. Chief of Fire Daryl McGinnis will adjust his staffing to ensure that the quality and timeliness of service by the Division to the community is not impacted. 

 

The City of Cleveland conducted two internal audits regarding Division of Fire payroll activities. The first focused on payroll and timekeeping policies and the second focused on internal shift trades. As a result of those audits, the City hired former federal prosecutor Ronald Bakeman to assist the Cleveland Division of Police Internal Affairs Unit in determining if there was any criminality involved in the shift trade practices of individual firefighters. The resulting report was given to the County Prosecutor’s Office for review in August 2012.  

The following individuals were included in today’s indictment:

Calvin Robinson, 52, of Cleveland

Kevin Dever, 42, of Cleveland

Bernard Fronhapple, 51, of Rocky River

Barry Kifus, 40, of Painesville

Kevin P. Kelly, 52, of Olmsted Falls

James Oleksiak, 44, of Cleveland

Robert Graham, 50, of Lakewood

Michael Milano, 53, of Broadview Heights

Nicholas Rucella, 49, of Cleveland

Gary McNamara, 48, of Bay Village

Peter Corso, 47, of Concord

Thomas Jurcisin, 51, of Cleveland

Daniel Losteiner, 45, of Cleveland 


This remains an ongoing investigation.



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(Photos by WTAM's Ken Robinson)

(Copyright © 2013 by Clear Channel, all rights reserved.)

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