Canton Firefighters Face Discipline In Subbing Scandal

The scandal in the Cleveland Fire Department over illegal compensation of substitutes has claimed five more victims… this time in the Canton Fire Department. Firefighters William Hallas, Andrew Bolgiano, Rosario Carcione, Timothy Givens and Kevin Gordon have drawn suspension penalties for improperly trading shifts during a three month period from October 2011 to  December 2011. An internal investigation was launched after an audit of the Cleveland Division of Fire revealed rampant shift trades and misuse of sick time.

The Canton investigation was allegedly prompted when fire officials became aware that some firefighters were working long hours leading to safety concerns. The issue then became substitutions in exchange for cash with no intent to repay the time owed.

According to Fire Chief Stephen Rich, the five firefighters were guilty of “conduct unbecoming to an officer and subversive and prejudicial to the good order and discipline of the division.” Canton Professional Firefighters Association President Rosario Carcione (himself one of the accused) told reporters “I don’t believe we’ve done anything wrong.”

The firefighters were suspended without pay effective May 23, 2012. They were:  

– Rosario Carcione – 60 days

– William Hallas – 60 days

– Andrew Bolgiano – 60 days

– Timothy Given – 3 weeks

– Kevin Gordon – 2 weeks

While police were called in to investigate the matter, no criminal charges were filed although the tax and pension consequences of the payments remain under review.

The firefighters have grieved the discipline, and sought arbitration. Union President Carcione went to court last week seeking a temporary restraining order to block his suspension. He later withdrew his complaint after the city Safety Director Thomas Ream agreed to hear the grievances by June 11, and speed up the arbitration process. An arbitrator will be selected by June 12, and render a decision within 21 days.

In the aftermath of the scandal, the fire department introduced policy changes that will track and monitor shift trades. Firefighters must repay the swap time within a 12-month time frame.

More on the story.

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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