Gambling Charges Brought against BC in South San Francisco

Last Friday, a South San Francisco Battalion Chief was charged with running a gambling operation while on duty. Chief James Selvitella is alleged to have used city phones, computers and work time to further the enterprise, and came to light after the fire chief learned that a subordinated owed him $30,000 in gambling debts.

The operation is alleged to have handled hundreds of thousands of dollars in bets daily.  

News reports indicate that Selvitella was fired in February, 2008 over the gambling allegations – and in a move that makes me think that “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” is not adequate – we might need a new category – “Brass Cajones” – he sued the department for wrongful termination!!! He claimed the department had no rules against gambling and in fact openly tolerated it. His suit alleged he was retaliated against for complaining about the city’s decision to hire a deputy chief from outside the department.

Selvitella was terminated for bookmaking while on duty, encouraging a subordinate to gamble, and lying during the investigation.

For more on the story.

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About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 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, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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