See all posts in the network tagged with
Five Nashville firefighters have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into some bizarre allegations, including that members engaged in sex acts in a fire station with a woman who later claims to have been drugged by one of the members at his house, and who’s friend tried to blackmail one of the firefighters. YCMTSU.NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather
The involved members have been identified as Captain James Overton, Firefighter Jason Copeland, Engineer Kerry Sales, Firefighter Darrin Bell, and Firefighter Quincy Corbitt. Four of the five are assigned to Station 24.
According to news reports police received a complaint on Saturday from a woman who said that a firefighter had drugged her at his home. Police interviewed FF Copeland, who told investigators that he was being blackmailed by a known gang member, Ray Dontrell Johnson, a friend of the woman.
Copeland cooperated with police to arrange a sting to capture Johnson, and Johnson is now in custody charged with extortion. The woman alleges that she and two friends had been to Station 24 to strip and perform sex acts for money.
Here is a follow up to the story from Jacksonville, Florida earlier this month about firefighters who were photographed in various stages of undress at a fundraising event – involving FD issued PPE.
Not sure how we missed this case when it happened back in June, but a police officer in Trenton, New Jersey issued a ticket to the driver of a battalion chief’s vehicle for blocking traffic at the scene of an alarm.
According to news reports, on June 8, 2012, TFD companies were dispatched to an alarm at the Broad Street Bank Building. At the scene, Battalion Chief Steve Coltre directed FF Ken Stout to block the road with the chief’s vehicle for scene safety. Police Officer Lawrence Davis then came on the scene and told Chief Coltre to move his vehicle. Coltre refused and Davis cited Stout for obstructing traffic.
The case is in the news because it went to municipal court yesterday. Because it involves Trenton police and Trenton fire, prosecutors agreed to have a judge from another community preside over the trial.
New Jersey.com quoted Stout’s attorney, Andrew Bayer as saying “There’s a statute that says a fire chief controls a fire scene as a matter of law, and so police officers can’t issue a ticket to a fire chief at a fire scene.”
Perhaps these statutes would be of interest:
40A:14-54. Firemen in the performance of their duties to have powers of police officers
The members and officers of the paid or part-paid fire department and force of a municipality shall have the powers and authority of police officers within the municipality, to be exercised while going to, attending and returning from a fire.
40A:14-54.1. Authority at scene of fire of fire official in charge of supervision or direction of operations
The chief or other superior officer of any municipal paid or part-paid fire department or volunteer fire company, or a State fire warden, who is charged with the duty of supervising or directing operations at the scene of any fire shall be the sole authority within fire lines established by said fire chief or other superior fire officer, or State fire warden, at the scene of such fire with respect to all firefighting operations relating to the protection of lives and property endangered by such fire, and within said fire lines such authority shall supersede that of any municipal police authority. The authority hereby invested in the chief or other superior officer, or State fire warden, shall terminate at such time as he shall declare the fire out. Nothing in this act shall affect the powers possessed by the Governor under the various emergency acts nor the powers possessed by any State agency to protect the public health, welfare and safety.
Might Officer Davis be cited for obstructing firefighters in the performance of their duties?
The fire chief of Patterson, New Jersey has filed suit against Passaic County claiming the county is responsible for the injuries he sustained at a fire in 2011.
Fire Chief Michael Postorino was injured on February 18, 2011, while battling a major fire that damaged four buildings. He reportedly stepped into a hole in a county owned road and was seriously injured. He claims that the fall caused permanent injuries resulting in him having to expend “large sums of money for medical care and attention”.
The suit was filed on Monday in Superior Court for Passaic County. It alleges that the county was on notice of the hole in the road, and negligently failed to address the risk.
Still working on getting a copy of the complaint.
An assistant fire chief from a small town in Montana has been charged with negligent arson, official misconduct, and operating on a suspended license following a fire last April that damaged several vehicles, storage sheds, timbers, plywood, flooring, windows, and a hay barn.
Assistant Chief Kasey Doto of the Centerville Volunteer Fire Department was reportedly tending to a small outdoor scrap fire a relative’s house in Butte when it got out of control. When career firefighters from the Butte Silver Fire Department arrived a Centerville VFD truck was already at the scene.
Chief Doto’s driver’s license had previously been suspended for DUI citations and he was prohibited from driving the apparatus. According to KTVQ.com, Centerville VFD had gone so far as to set up a video camera to ease the public’s concern that Chief Doto was disobeying the DUI suspension. Ironically, the camera caught Chief Doto driving his own vehicle and another fire department vehicle.
Firefighters remained on the scene of the fire for eight hours controlling the blaze, overhauling and investigating. When asked how the Centerville fire truck got on scene, Chief Doto allegedly claimed it was at a nearby trucking facility for repairs. He was arrested last Thursday and released on his own recognizance, and is due back in court for arraignment on September 6, 2012.
An upstate New York firefighter has been charged in connection with a series of fires set in his own fire station. William L. Smith, 22, of the West Glen Falls Volunteer Fire Company was arrested by state police and investigators from the state fire marshals office last Friday.
Smith is believed to be responsible for a series of small fires set in various electrical outlets in the station, including one on July 31, 2012 that damaged a cable TV modem. He has not been charged in connection with a more serious fire on July 31, 2012 that damaged the station’s kitchen.
Apparently critical to the solving the case was a computerized security system that tracks members entering the building. The Poststar.com is reporting that authorities say Smith admitted to his involvement in the smaller fires, but not the most serious one.
Smith was a member of the department’s board of directors and was responsible for station maintenance.
A former FDNY firefighter and now practicing attorney, Peter J. Gleason, has filed a comprehensive, 18-page lawsuit in Federal court against City of New York, FDNY, former Battalion Chief George Belnavis, Lieutenant Edward Boles, Fire Marshal Brian Grogan , Captain Patrick Reynolds, former Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta and the Uniformed Fire Officers Association alleging that the defendants tried to discredit his campaign for City Council in 2009 by releasing his confidential medical records to the press to show that he spent most of his ten year tenure with the department on medical leave.
The complaint includes a “Preliminary Statement” that explains the basis for the suit and is quoted here at length [Note that the bullet points and the paragraph breaks are mine – added to make it a bit easier to read]:
- Plaintiff is a retired firefighter now admitted to practice law in New York. This action, is based on the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) and its officials’ unlawful search, seizure, and subsequent publication and public dissemination of Plaintiffs confidential medical records and information derived therefrom in retaliation for Plaintiff acting as legal counsel for a plaintiff in an action against the FDNY. The FDNY acts as legal custodian of medical records of former firefighters maintained in a depository in Kings County.
- Firefighters have constitutionally protected liberty and property interests in the confidentiality of their medical records that are protected from unlawful searches and seizures, publications and public disseminations, and deprivations without notice and a meaningful opportunity to be heard. These medical records are confidential and protected from unlawful government search and seizure and public dissemination by federal statute and by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Additionally, Plaintiff has a property interest in the medical records protected by the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Defendants owe firefighters a duty of care to maintain the confidentiality of such records.
- In early 2006, Plaintiff filed a notice of claim against the FDNY and certain of its officers on behalf of William Kregler, who was also a retired firefighter. Kregler claimed that the FDNY violated his First Amendment rights by retaliating against him by terminating his application for appointment to the position of City Marshal because of his public support of Robert Morgenthau who was then a candidate for District Attorney. Kregler v. City of New York, 375 Fed.Appx. 143 (2d Cir. 2010).
- On or around July, 2009, Plaintiff was a candidate for City Council for the First Councilmanic District (lower Manhattan). As part of the process, Plaintiff sought the endorsement of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. During an interview with officers of that Association, Plaintiff was bombarded with hostile questions regarding his representation of Kregler.
- Shortly thereafter, on or around August 19, 2009, the FDNY unreasonably searched and seized Plaintiff’s confidential medical records without a search warrant. The FDNY then released Plaintiffs medical records to the Village Voice, a supporter of Plaintiff’s principal political adversary. By releasing Plaintiff’s confidential medical records, the FDNY intended to and did retaliate against Plaintiff for speech that is constitutionally protected; inflicted an adverse employment action on Plaintiff; maliciously inflicted extreme emotional, financial and reputational damage upon Plaintiff; and substantially interfered with Plaintiff’s rights of political association, public association, and liberty to effectively represent the individuals and entities of his choice guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
- The unlawful search, seizure, publication and public dissemination was arbitrary, served no legitimate governmental interest and was motivated solely by a desire to punish Plaintiff for his representation and to serve the FDNY’s political animus and that of individual defendants named in this action. Defendants also republished the Village Voice article to firefighters by forwarding a link via email blast.
- In accessing Plaintiff’s medical records without court authorization and without any legitimate government interest and then publishing Plaintiff’s medical records, the FDNY wanted to punish Plaintiff for his representation of a client and did so, effectively destroying his candidacy and damaging his reputation. The FDNY’ s behavior was extreme and outrageous, warranting punitive damages. Four aggravating factors show an absence of mistake and calculated malice.
- First, the FDNY released the records shortly prior to the election in such a manner that Plaintiff would not have the time to respond to or correct misleading published statements.
- Second, the FDNY released the records to a Village Voice reporter known for vitriolic personal attacks on political adversaries. The FDNY’s leak was a dirty trick that effectively destroyed Plaintiffs political campaign and sent a chilling message to any former firefighter willing to speak out against the FDNY.
- Third, the FDNY’s retaliation against Plaintiff is extreme and outrageous because it shows contempt for judicial proceedings and a willingness to use confidential medical records for unlawful purposes and to reward its officers engaging in such illegal conduct.
- Fourth, the FDNY’s retaliation is part of a municipal policy and a pattern and practice of retaliation against former and current firefighters who exercise their First Amendment and other Constitutionally-protected rights.
The suit alleges HIPAA violations, as well as due process (liberty and property deprivations), First Amendment, and Fourth Amendment violations. It seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, costs and attorneys fees.
Here is a copy of the complaint filed on August 17, 2012. Gleason v Scoppetta
Today’s burning question: Please select the most likely response:
Six members of a Pennsylvania volunteer fire company, including the chief, have been “suspended for life” by the company’s trustees, and escorted from the monthly meeting by the police for:
a. Committing arson
b. Theft of large sums from the fire company
c. Responding to a fire while intoxicated
d. Conducting a fundraising event without permission
Answer: You guessed it… it is d. ….. Six members of the Blaine Hill Volunteer Fire Company including fire chief Brian Mason were suspended for life by the trustees over fundraising without permission. The suspended include Fire Captain Steve Trumpe, Deputy Chief Rick Lewis, Lt. Kevin Tennant and firefighters Mike Trumpe and Lisa Charleston.
Following the suspensions, the company’s vice president John Reese and secretary Dawn Reese resigned.
The suspensions are just the latest round in an ongoing dispute between the members and the trustees. They were handed down last Monday evening, where not only were the six members suspended, but they were unceremoniously escorted from the meeting by police. The event at the heart of the controversy was a fundraising fair that trustees claim was not authorized.
Chief Mason, was quoted on TribLive saying “I’m fighting it. We’re all fighting it.. I’ve been a fireman 22 years and I’ve never been through stupid (stuff) like this.” He also insists that the fundraising was approved at a meeting.
A Connecticut man was charged with assault after throwing a cup of ice coffee at a deputy fire chief over a dispute at a traffic accident.
Glastonbury police and fire were at the scene of a motorcycle accident Monday when a vehicle driven by Mark Duell, 27, of East Hartford, approached the scene and attempted to pass. He was stopped by Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Motowidlak, who allegedly banged on Duell’s vehicle and told him to stop.
Duell became so enraged that he cursed at Chief Motowidlak, and complained to police officers at the scene. When he was told to back up and not permitted to drive through the scene he threw a cup of ice coffee at Chief Motowidlak. The chief was struck on the leg.
Duell was arrested a short time later, and charged with assault on emergency personnel. More on the story.
Posted in Criminal Law
A dispatcher with the Baltimore City Fire Department has filed suit in Federal court against the department , the Mayor and the City Council alleging discrimination and retaliation. Arthur Franklin Kirk III claims that the discrimination was on the basis of race, sex and medical condition. He seeks his job back along with back pay and $3 million in damages.
The lawsuit claims that the discrimination began in May of 2008 after he filed a race discrimination complaint with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC declined to initiate an enforcement action over the issue and instead issued a “right to sue letter” to Kirk.
The discrimination against Kirk, an African American, allegedly consisted of the city:
- “repeatedly investigating Plaintiff for alleged violence and misconduct in the workplace”
- “allowing females at Plaintiff’s worksites to falsely accuse him of workplace violence and misconduct when they knew or should have known that the accusations were baseless”
- “maintaining a lengthy investigation of the females’ claims”
- “repeatedly harassing, embarrassing and humiliating Plaintiff in the workplace by disclosing to his fellow workers the false accusations against him by fellow employees”
- “Nether Defendants nor their agents, servants, employees, members, supervisors, managers and officials initiated any such disciplinary actions or employment actions against similarly situated and employed white employees at the workplace who engaged in alleged behavior or conduct as Plaintiff was accused of being engaged in.”
Baltimore citypaper.com has reported that Kirk, 41, was hired in 2001 two years after his probation ended for a drug dealing conviction that included an 8 year sentence and four years of probation. He is the son of late Baltimore politician Del. Ruth Kirk.
In what may be a cut and paste error on the part of Kirk’s counsel, the complaint includes a bizarre allegation of pregnancy discrimination in so far as plaintiff is a male:
- “The BDFD and the City of Baltimore, Defendants, and their agents, servants, employees, members, supervisors, managers and officials engaged in intentional employment discrimination and employment practices that had the effect of discriminating against Plaintiff, as alleged herein, on the basis of her medical condition, that is, suffered injuries and pain driving an official vehicle including but not limited to conditions creating a hostile work environment on the basis of her medical condition and pregnancy in violation of Title VII.”
- “The BDFD and the City of Baltimore, Defendants, and their agents, servants, employees, members, supervisors, managers and officials engaged in intentional employment discrimination, employment practices that had the effect of discriminating against Plaintiff, as alleged herein, on the basis of his race, sex and medical condition, that is including but not limited to conditions creating a hostile work environment against Plaintiff on the basis of his race, sex and medical condition and pregnancy, in violation of Title VII, knowingly, intentionally and willfully retaliated against him”.
The allegations of pregnancy discrimination are made in other paragraphs as well, as is reference to plaintiff being male and female. It is in the section of the complaint that that refers to Kirk as a female that he asks to be reinstated. The news is reporting that Kirk was not fired. Here is a copy of the complaint. Kirk v Baltimore
Some light has been shed on the inner details of the nasty battle in the Clinton, Iowa Fire Department over the EMS overbilling allegations that led to a $4.5 million fraud settlement, the fire chief being dismissed then reinstated, and a legal malpractice suit being filed against the city’s attorneys.
At least as outlined in the malpractice lawsuit, the lion’s share of the blame for what occurred falls upon the attorneys who supposedly investigated the overbilling allegations, concluded the city’s liability was in excess of $100 million, and recommended the city settle the case by paying $4.5 million back to the US government.
Upon further investigation, it appears that the fire department did not commit fraud, and that the mistakes that occurred (if any) were within the realm of normal, creating a maximum potential liability of just over $100,000.
Recall that Fire Chief Mark Regenwether and EMS director Andrew McGovern were blamed for the overbilling problem and fired back in 2010. Both were later reinstated with backpay. The details of the case help to explain what happened and why they were initially made out to be scapegoats.
The Clinton Herald published an excellent overview of what occurred, but essentially:
- On September 19, 2008, Clinton firefighter Timothy Schultheis filed a Federal False Claims Act suit alleging Medicare fraud in Clinton’s EMS billing practices. He claimed BLS runs were being billed at ALS rates. The suit was sealed by a Federal Court as the matter was investigated.
- On September 10, 2009, the United States chose not to intervene in suit and the suit became public on September 19, 2009.
- Facing the suit, the city hired the law firm of Hopkins and Heubner PC to defend it; they investigated, concluded city had major liability exposure potentially exceeding $100 million, and advised the city to settle the case. Critical to that decision was that 95% of Clinton’s runs were billed as ALS while the national average was 60%.
- On September 22, 2010 the Schultheis case was settled with an agreement to pay $4.5 million to the US, 30% of which would go to Schultheis.
- In October 2010 Chiefs Regenwether and McGovern were fired.
- In December 2010 Chiefs Regenwether and McGovern were reinstated as it appeared the settlement was based on flawed information. Further researched revealed that after new “Medicare approved” billing practices were instituted the ALS-BLS split was 86 percent ALS and 14 percent BLS, and at most created a liability of $108,000.
- In March 2012 – the city of Clinton filed a lawsuit against Hopkins & Heubner for malpractice, alleging “It was negligent for defendants to have reasonably believed that any court or jury actually would have penalized the city in the amount of $10,000 to $15,000 [per run] for an inadvertent $45 [per run] overcharge to Medicare.”
Here is a copy of the malpractice suit. City of Clinton v
Four Medford, Massachusetts firefighters are in trouble over their failure to respond on an EMS run on July 13, 2012. The mix up involved the dispatcher and three firefighters in regards to an EMS run where the patient died.
The dispatcher was suspended without pay for two weeks. The three firefighters received written reprimands.WHDH-TV –
A Wisconsin fire captain has been charged with sexual assault following a 13 month long investigation into allegations made by a minor female seizure patient.
Jodin D. Froeber, 37, of the Somers Fire Department has been charged with one count of sexual assault in the second degree. The incident occurred on July 19, 2011 while crews were transporting a 17-year-old girl having seizures to St. Mary’s All Saints Hospital in Racine
Captain Froeber administered diazepam to the girl and was alone with her in the back of the ambulance during the transport. Incident reports indicate the patient was unresponsive throughout the transport, but the girl claims she was awake but unable to open her eyes. She claims Captain Froeber groped her and that she heard a clicking sound that she believed was a camera taking pictures.
Captain Froeber’s defense attorney, Jonathan LaVoy, was quoted in the Kenosha News as saying “He absolutely completely denies assaulting this young lady… I think there’s some major issues with this case, and I don’t know the motivations here of this young lady. But I do know that it doesn’t add up, and this case will be highly contested.”
In the mean time, Captain Froeber has been suspended by the Somers Fire Department.
Allentown, PA Firefighters IAFF Local 302 have appealed an interest arbitration decision handed down last month to Lehigh County Court. The suit alleges that the arbitrator made several procedural errors in granting the award that covers four years, including overstepping his authority by cutting pension benefits, reducing minimum staffing levels, and imposing restrictions on sick leave that were contrary to state and local law.
- freezes salaries of firefighters for two years
- reduces the minimum shift staffing from 30 to firefighters per shift
- reduces the amount of overtime that can be used for pension calculation from 100% down to 10%
- requires firefighters to submit medical documentation for sick leave of more than 3 days compared to 6 days currently
- eliminated cost-of-living adjustments for firefighters who retired between 2005 and 2012
- eliminated a buyback option of pension credits
The Union alleges that the arbitrator prohibited it from presenting live testimony from witnesses, but allowed the city to do so, and awarded cutbacks to the city that violate state and local law.
The city is also appealing a portion of the award that reinstates a ban on layoffs and furloughs and staffing minimum of 140 firefighters after 2015. The award granted the city a temporary waiver of the ban on layoffs and furloughs and the 140 person minimum department-wide staffing level. The city wants the right to control the size of its workforce to be permanent.
An Ohio fire chief has filed a second lawsuit against her former employer alleging breach of a confidentiality agreement contract and intentional infliction of severe emotional distress.
Former Litchfield Township fire chief Joyce Teodecki filed the lawsuit in Medina County Common Pleas Court naming the Township and two trustees personally. Trustee Nancy Wargo was sued for defamation of character and trustee Mike Pope was sued for malicious prosecution and abuse of process
Chief Teodecki resigned as fire chief in July of 2011, following an internal investigation by a former police officer retained by the Township. The investigation concluded the chief was guilty of several charges, including misconduct, gross neglect of duty, and creating a hostile work environment. The Township and the chief signed a confidentiality agreement that the details of the investigation would not be released if she retired.
In November, 2011 the trustees voted to release the investigation report after Chief Teodecki distributed an “open letter” to the citizens of Litchfield criticizing the trustees just before the general election. The trustees claimed that Chief Teodecki was the first to violate the confidentiality agreement because the letter accused them of conducting a “witch hunt” and calling them “character assassins.”
The earlier suit filed in Federal court in December was dismissed in April based on a lack of Federal jurisdiction. In that suit Chief Teodecki alleged a violation of her 1st Amendment rights.
Chief Teodecki served in the Litchfield Township Fire Department for 34 years including 12 years as chief.
Here is a copy of the Federal court’s ruling on the motion to dismiss, which details the factual allegations. Dismissal
Three ranking officers of the Pittsburgh Fire Bureau have filed suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act claiming that PFB officers have been wrongfully denied overtime compensation.
Deputy Chief Harry Scherer, Battalion Chief Robert Cox and Captain Edmund J. Farley filed suit yesterday seeking overtime compensation they and other officers are owed under the 2004 revisions to the FLSA.
The 2004 revisions clarified the “executive exemption” making most firefighters for whom fighting fires and responding to emergencies is a primary responsibility eligible for overtime compensation after 212 hours in a 28 day period (or an average of 53 hours per week). Historically, many fire departments have considered all officers to be executives, and therefore exempt from overtime requirements. That exemption now applies only to ranking officers who’s primary responsibility is not responding to emergencies.
The lawsuit seeks back pay from July 2009, as the FLSA only allows workers to go back 3 years. The city had settled a similar lawsuit last year filed by the Police officers by paying more than $900,000 in penalties and attorneys’ fees.
A well known Las Vegas deputy chief has prevailed in a reverse discrimination suit against Las Vegas Fire & Rescue and its former fire chief. Last Friday, Deputy Chief Ken Riddle was awarded $365,000 in compensatory damages from the department plus $25,000 in punitive damages against former fire chief David Washington.
Chief Riddle, who is white, alleged that Chief Washington, who is black, fired him in August, 2006 in order to promote a black officer to Deputy Chief. During the six intervening years the Federal suit has made its way from the US District Court for the State of Nevada, up to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals and back down to the District Court where the jury trial was held last week.
In a last minute attempt to amend his pleadings, Chief Riddle sought to add a count of defamation against Chief Washington, who allegedly told outgoing IAFC President Al Gillespie (who was the president of the Nevada Fire Chiefs) not to hire Chief Riddle as Executive Director in 2007 because he could not be trusted. Chief Washington also threatened Chief Gillespie by saying he would “have all the City of Las Vegas fire chiefs quit the organization if Ken Riddle was hired.” Chief Riddle was hired as Executive Director anyway.
The court refused to allow the amendment citing it would “unduly prejudice” the Defendants. Here is a copy of that ruling. Order
Here is a pre-trial ruling on a summary judgment motion that lays out the pertinent facts of the case. Ruling
No word yet on an appeal.
Baltimore County has reached a settlement with the US Department of Justice and the EEOC over allegations that the county’s police and fire departments unlawfully discriminated against employees and candidates on the basis of disabilities.
The case arose out of a number of allegations and lawsuits dating back years that challenge the county’s approach toward compliance with the American’s With Disabilities’ Act. In 2006 the county required certain employees to undergo medical examinations and answer disability related questions about their medical history that were not job-related or consistent with business necessity. The DOJ alleges that the medical examinations and questions were “overbroad and wholly unrelated to the medical conditions for which the County was purportedly evaluating the employees’ fitness for duty.”
The complaint also alleges that the personnel officer for the Baltimore County Police Department, Robert H. Wickless, tried to raise concerns about the county’s ADA related practices, but was retaliated against in violation of the ADA.
The county is also accused of denying employment to two otherwise qualified EMT applicants for because they have insulin dependent diabetes (Type I Diabetes). This took place in 2010.
Initially, the EEOC sought a voluntary resolution of the case, but was unable to reach a settlement with the county. That prompted the EEOC to turn the case over to the Department of Justice for prosecution.
The county steadfast denied any wrongdoing, but apparently reached a settlement with the DOJ prior to the suit actually being filed on Tuesday. The settlement, filed at the same time as the complaint, requires the county to pay roughly $500,000 to 10 named plaintiffs, one of whom will also be hired as a probationary firefighter in December. The county also agreed to address the concerns that gave rise to the complaints, and submit reports to the DOJ at 6 month intervals on its compliance efforts.
Here is a copy of the complaint. US V Baltimore County COMPLAINT
Here is a copy of the consent decree. US V Baltimore County CONSENT DECREE
There is more bad news coming out of the beleaguered Velarde, New Mexico, Fire Department. The interium fire chief, appointed to replace the chief who was at the center of a major dispute, showed up at the fire station Monday evening for a meeting appearing to be drunk, wearing body armor and carrying two firearms including an assault rifle.
Interim Fire Chief Darwin Yazzie was arrested and charged with aggravated assault. He allegedly appeared at the department’s monthly meeting and threatened firefighters.
Officials from Rio Arriba County indicated on Tuesday they had terminated Chief Yazzie and had obtained a restraining order prohibiting him from having contact with the department or its members.
News reports indicate that Chief Yazzie’s behavior is believed to have been promoted by a rift in the department over the termination of the previous fire chief, Eddie Velarde. More on that story.