Tuesday, December 11 2012 10:08 PM EST2012-12-12 03:08:59 GMT
New fallout from a pay scandal in the Cleveland Fire Department -- scandal 19 Action News first exposed a year ago. Multiple sources confirm a grand jury is hearing evidence that could lead to more chargesMore >>
New fallout from a pay scandal in the Cleveland Fire Department -- scandal 19 Action News first exposed a year ago.
News and weather apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry and tablets. More >>
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -
13 Cleveland Firefighters have each been indicted 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.
It's the result of a story 19 Action News reporter Ed Gallek broke in 2011. Gallek revealed exclusively some firefighters get full pay and benefits though they rarely work. At the time, we were told they claim they're trading shifts, but they never work for anyone else.
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 Tim 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."
This remains an ongoing investigation.
The following individuals were included in today's indictment: