Police arrest former firefighter in forgery scheme
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- A former firefighter who has been on the run since four firefighters were charged with falsifying records has been arrested.
Michael Reimer was booked into Broward County jail early Friday morning. He is accused of using fake credentials to increase his salary.
Reimer recently resigned and had a warrant out for his arrest.
One of Reimer's former colleagues, Freddie Batista, bonded out of jail on Thursday. "We're always presumed guilty before proven innocent," he said.
Batista is a 19-year veteran firefighter who's career is now in jeopardy. When asked if he felt guilty, his response was: "Proud to be a Fort Lauderdale firefighter."
The scandal involves five firefighters: Batista, Reimer, Gregory Jones, Steve Loleski and Joseph Perri. They are all accused of forging advanced cardiovascular life support cards, which is a certification that makes them eligible for higher pay. "By having these certifications, they collected funds that they are not entitled to," said prosecutor Ellen St. Laurent.
According to arrest documents, the fake cards had irregular fonts, incorrect regional data, a missing security background and the designation of a non-qualified instructor and training site. All of these errors lead investigators to conclude that "EMS academy did not authorize or issue any of the cards in question."
The Fort Lauderdale mayor also spoke out about the alleged fraud scheme and said this is a separate incident that does not reflect the entire city's rescuers. "There are 450 firefighters that serve the City of Fort Lauderdale and the residents of this area that are very committed to doing their job and doing it with honesty, integrity and professionalism," said mayor Jack Seiler. "From what I've been able to tell, this a little bit of an isolated situation."
Batista, however, refuted the allegations when reporters questioned him as he walked out of jail. "It's hurtful you know, but it's one of those things. Just proud to be a firefighter," he said.
Reimer had already resigned from his job. The four current firefighters involved in this investigation, they are on administrative leave pending the outcome of this case.
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