Waterbury Captain Charged With Fraud For Volunteering While IOD

A Waterbury, Connecticut captain has been arrested and charged with workers compensation fraud and larceny for allegedly teaching classes for the state fire academy and responding to emergency calls as a volunteer while off injured. Fire Captain Michael J. Farrell, 48, was arraigned in Waterbury Superior Court last Friday and charged with first-degree larceny and workers’ compensation fraud.

Captain Farrell allegedly collected workers’ compensation from March 20, 2012 to July 30, of 2012, during which time he taught classes for the Connecticut Fire Academy and responded to at least one emergency call as a volunteer with the Avon Volunteer Fire Department in his hometown of Avon. He has been a volunteer firefighter in Avon for about 30 years, and served as deputy chief.

Farrell was injured on March 16, 2012 while training with Waterbury. He suffered back and leg injuries and according to his doctor’s report was placed on disability leave, without clearance for light duty work.

The Waterbury Fire Department received an anonymous letter about Farrell’s activities, and turned the matter over to the Waterbury Police Department for investigation. The letter indicated that incident attendance records and fire alarm recordings from Avon would document the allegations.

The Avon patch offered the following Time Line:

Date Case Details
March 16 Waterbury Fire Capt. Michael Farrell is injured while conducting training.
March 20 His injuries are examined at St. Mary’s Occupational Health; the doctor advises him not to work in any capacity; he goes on workers’ comp.
March 28 The doctor’s order not to work is in effect starting on this date. His injury leave as Waterbury fire captain begins. Avon Volunteer Fire Department also places him on medical leave on an unconfirmed date in last spring.
March 31 Farrell teaches a training class in Avon as a Connecticut Fire Academy instructor.
May 6 Farrell teaches a training class at Sandy Hook Fire Department as a Connecticut Fire Academy instructor.
May 15 Farrell teaches a training class at West Hartford Fire Department as a Connecticut Fire Academy instructor.
May 17 Farrell teaches a training class at West Hartford Fire Department as a Connecticut Fire Academy instructor. Later that day, he teaches at Wolcott Fire School.
June 1 Farrell responds to a tranformer explosion call as a member of the Avon Volunteer Fire Department at the intersection of Sunset Trail and Hillcrest Drive. This is the incident date listed on the state judicial website in connection to the Waterbury charges.
June 6 Farrell’s voice is audible on recordings of communications with Avon fire and police dispatchers for a fire alarm call on Helena Road. His name and fire identification number are also mentioned.
July 18 Farrell’s doctor approves him for light duty at a follow-up appointment, but a Berkley Risk Administrators representative said he was not shifted to light duty.
July 20 Waterbury Police Lt. Michael Slavin begins investigation into Farrell’s activities while on injury leave in Waterbury. Waterbury’s chief administrative officer tells Slavin about the anonymous letter tipping Waterbury town officials off about the situation. Slavin talks to Avon Fire Chief Michael Trick the same day.
July 23 Slavin receives an email from Trick about the dispatch transmissions for the June 6 call at Helena Road.
July 24 Slavin applies for and is granted search and seizure warrant for Avon Volunteer Fire Department attendance records.
Aug. 3 Slavin receives confirmation from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection that Farrell taught classes as a Connecticut Fire Academy instructor in Avon, Sandy Hook and West Hartford between March and May.
Aug. 17 Francis Grady, Farrell’s attorney, faxes Slavin to tell him that Farrell also taught a class at the Wolcott Fire School. He also says he sent a check on Farrell’s behalf to the city of Waterbury as reimbursement for what he earned while on injury leave. This money was not accepted.
Sept. 7 Waterbury police arrest Farrel on first-degree larceny and workers’ comp fraud charges. He appears in Waterbury Superior Court


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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