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Ohio Chief Demoted for Impersonating Public Official in Social Media

An assistant chief with the Clearcreek Township Fire Department has been demoted following a police investigation into the online impersonation of an elected official.

Former Assistant Chief Christopher Vecchi was accused of impersonating Kelly Kohls, president of the Springboro school board, on July 27, 2013 in an internet blog discussion about highly contentious Springboro school levy issues.

Police investigated after Kohls complained that someone had used her identity. A search warrant served on the blog operator gave police access to the web data needed to identify the actual poster. Police then obtained a search warrant for Chief Vecchi’s computer. Vecchi was placed on paid leave on August 16, 2013 with the police pursuing felony identity fraud charges.

The police reportedly completed their investigation and decided not to pursue criminal charges. Following the investigation, Clearcreek Township trustees demoted Vecchi for one year and required him to sign a “last chance” agreement. By agreement, Vecchi’s paid leave was reverted to an unpaid suspension, and he agreed to use accrued sick and time-off to reimburse the township for his pay going back to August 16. 2013.

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About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.