Cleveland Firefighter Acquitted of Filing False Accident Report

A Cleveland firefighter who was charged with submitting a false report following an apparatus accident has been found not guilty by a jury.

Last June, firefighter Richard Nickerson, 42, was driving Cleveland’s Ladder 36 when it drove into a light tower in a parking lot. Nickerson and his officer, Capt. Ronald Vargo, 50, allegedly submitted reports stating Ladder 36 was cut-off by a white car. However, surveillance video obtained by police showed the truck driving into the light tower as if the driver was not paying attention.

Nickerson and Vargo were charged with filing a false report. Vargo accepted a plea deal in March requiring him to pay a $750 fine and probation. Nickerson opted for a jury trial and yesterday was found not guilty in Cleveland Municipal Court.

His primary defense was that there was insufficient proof that Nickerson himself had submitted the false report.

More on the story.

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.
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