Administrative hearings will be scheduled for 12 Cleveland firefighters who plead guilty to misdemeanor charges today in the shift-trading case stemming from a grand jury indictment last year.
Per city policy, the firefighters were placed on unpaid administrative leave on May 22, 2013 pending adjudication of the felony and misdemeanor charges filed against them on May 17, 2013. At the time, all twelve firefighters waived their rights to a pre-disciplinary hearing. Those hearings will now be scheduled. Public Safety Director Michael C. McGrath and Chief of Fire Patrick Kelly will identify a mutually agreeable time with the firefighters’ legal representatives and expect the hearings to occur within the next 10 days. In the interim, the affected firefighters will remain on unpaid administrative leave.
The criminal charges stem from a series of internal audits regarding Division of Fire payroll activities initiated and conducted by the City of Cleveland. The first focused on payroll and timekeeping policies and the second focused on internal shift trades. As a result of those audits, the City hired former federal prosecutor Ronald Bakeman to assist the Cleveland Division of Police Internal Affairs Unit in determining if there was any criminality involved in the shift trade practices of individual firefighters. The resulting report was given to the County Prosecutor’s Office for review in August 2012.
As a result of the City’s internal audits, numerous changes have been made within the Division of Fire, including the implementation of a revised shift trade policy in 2012, enhanced supervisory training and the use of technology to ensure more accurate payroll record keeping. In addition, as part of the integration of the Divisions of Fire and EMS, timekeeping and payroll functions for the two divisions have been consolidated under the oversight of a civilian manager who reports directly to an Assistant Director of Public Safety.
A 13th firefighter still has charges pending against him and he remains on unpaid administrative leave.