Several firefighters arrested for allegedly using fake credentials
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Four Fort Lauderdale firefighters are behind bars after they allegedly used fake credentials to increase their salary.
According to police, Freddie Batista, a 14-year veteran, Gregory Jones, six-year veteran, Steve Loleski, 12-year veteran, Joseph Perri, six-year veteran, all face charges involving falsifying public records.
Police said Batista faces 10 counts and is being held on a $70, 000 bond. He is accused of providing the others with fake advanced cardiovascular life support cards.
Judge John Hurley explained the charges in court Wednesday morning. "If they have those cards and they've been certified with those ACLS cards, they're entitled to a boost in pay, either 10 or 15 percent. What allegedly happened is, Mr. Loleski and several other firefighters allegedly, fraudulently, obtained or prepared their cards so that they can receive the pay they weren't entitled to."
The health department initiated an audit looking at certifications and when Loleski's came up, something was hot. According to the report, it had irregular font, incorrect regional data, a missing security background, and a designation of a non-qualified instructor and training site. One card in question had white out on the instructor's name.
When department investigators investigated further, according to the report, the EMS Academy did not authorize or issue any of the cards in question.
It is believed that this is an isolated incident.
One former firefighter, Michael Rhymer is still at large. He recently resigned, but has a warrant out for his arrest.
The investigation continues to make sure that other firefighters are not getting extra pay by using fake credentials.
If you have any information about this case, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward.
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