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Crime and Courts


Cleveland firefighters plead guilty to criminal charges
Most egregious of the alleged "shift-swappers" is to go on trial Feb. 24.
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE


Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
 
In The Region:

A dozen Cleveland firefighters admitted today (Monday) that they collected illegal payments when they swapped shifts over a period of years with co-workers. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports on what appears to be the first-of-its-kind prosecution in the country.

LISTEN:Shift-swapping developments

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The 12 firefighters all pleaded guilty to misdeameanor charges of complicity to receive unlawful compensation. Each was sentenced to six months in jail – with that time suspended. And they were ordered to pay court costs, which should top $1,000 each. 

Originally, the firefighters were facing felony charges of theft in office. And a 13th member of the force, 52-year-old Calvin Robinson, still does. He did not enter a guilty plea, and his trial is set to begin Feb. 24.

Here are the names of those who entered the guilty pleas:
Peter Corso, 48, of Concord; Kevin Dever, 43, of Cleveland; Bernard Fronhapple, 52, of Rocky River; Robert Graham, 52, of Lakewood; Barry Kifus, 41, of Painesville; Kevin P. Kelly, 52, of Olmsted Falls; Thomas Jurcisin, 52, of Cleveland; Daniel Losteiner, 45, of Cleveland; Gary McNamara, 49, of Bay Village; Michael Milano, 54, of Broadview Heights; James Oleksiak, 44, of Cleveland; and Nicholas Rucella, 49, of Cleveland. 

The shift-swapping amounted to at least 2,000 hours – the equivalent of about a full-year’s work. Robinson, however, is accused of getting coworkers to pick up about four years’ worth of work, while he ran a daycare center and substituted in Cleveland schools – and continued to receive full city benefits. The city said trading shifts left it paying huge overtime bills, especially around the holidays. 

The firefighters’ union and their lawyers had maintained that their actions did not rise to the level of criminal charges. And the Cuyahoga County prosecutors’ office acknowledges it knows of no similar prosecutions nationwide. 
The city has scheduled an administrative hearing for the firefighters tomorrow. 

 

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