Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough Fire Rescue investigates whether commanders falsified their time cards

TAMPA — Three shift commanders with Hillsborough County Fire Rescue were placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday after they were accused of falsifying their time cards when their boss was on vacation, county records show.

Deputy Fire Chief of Operations Newell "Chip" Branam, supervisor for the three, also was placed on paid administrative leave "until further notice" while an outside agency hired by the county reviews the allegations, county spokeswoman Liana Lopez confirmed in an email Thursday to the Tampa Bay Times.

Michael Guincho, Grant Preseau and Nelson Diez were notified by letters Wednesday that they are now subjects of an "administrative proceeding" as Fire Rescue reviews their electronic time card entries.

In those letters, obtained by the Times, division personnel chief Todd Carnell wrote that the time cards show "dates and hours wherein it appears you did not work, but the TeleStaff system indicates you were on regular duty status."

Fire Chief Dennis Jones, the official "complainant" in the review, first told Deputy County Administrator Greg Horwedel on June 8 that he was concerned about the time cards, according to a memo Horwedel sent the next day to County Administrator Mike Merrill.

The chief compared the time cards to the department's rotational fill-in schedule and concluded there was a "reasonable basis for a further investigation," Horwedel wrote. He requested Merrill's permission to hire the private investigations firm of James Orr, a former special agent and polygraph examiner with the FBI.

"If theft is proven as a result of this investigation, I will recommend significant discipline, up to and including termination of employment," Horwedel wrote in the memo. "Because of the serious nature of this matter, I recommend that we hire the outside investigator as proposed."

Horwedel estimated the cost of hiring James Orr at no more than $5,000. With Orr's help, the investigation should be finished within a week after the shift commanders are interviewed, the memo said.

Shift commanders aren't covered under the county's contract with the firefighters union but because they are certified firefighters, there are tight protocols for conducting interviews involving potential disciplinary action.

The commanders' interviews were scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday at Fire Rescue headquarters.

Hillsborough Fire Rescue investigates whether commanders falsified their time cards 06/15/17 [Last modified: Thursday, June 15, 2017 9:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Once 'angry' about Obamacare, Republican David Jolly came to see it as 'safety net'

    Blogs

    Former Congressman David Jolly, who ran against Obamacare in 2013, said in an interview Monday night that he now considers it a "safety net."

  2. Five children hospitalized after chlorine release at Tampa pool store

    Accidents

    Five children were sickened at a pool store north of Tampa on Monday after a cloud of chlorine was released, according to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

  3. Deputies find unidentified decomposing body in Dunedin canal

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies found an unidentified male body floating in a Dunedin canal Monday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said.

  4. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  5. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108