8 firefighters punished for urinating on former chief’s photoBy Mason White 5:44 AM February 11, 2014
By: Anika Rao
(Scroll down for video) Eight firefighters were punished after they were accused of urinating on a former fire chief’s photo at a bar, fire officials in Ohio said.
Disciplinary action has been taken against eight members of the Division of Fire who were found guilty of divisional charges stemming from an incident on August 16, 2013.
The administrative charges include violations of City of Cleveland Civil Service Rules and Division of Fire General Orders involving conduct, neglect of duty and behavior detrimental to the good reputation of the Division of Fire. After receiving information that an anonymous picture message was sent to former Chief of the Division of Fire Daryl McGinnis, an investigation was conducted by the Office of Integrity Control, Compliance and Employee Accountability for the Department of Public Safety.
The investigation revealed that the official City of Cleveland portrait of former Chief McGinnis that was posted at the Fire Training Academy was stolen on or about August 16, 2013 and placed in an urinal at Cleveland area bar sometime during a post-graduation party for a class of fire recruits that had graduated earlier that day.
Through the investigation, it was determined that Captain Roy Ziganti, second in command at the academy, took a cell phone picture of the portrait in the urinal, forwarded the picture to a female companion of one of the graduates and had her send the picture to former Chief McGinnis and another instructor, Lt. William Lipke.
Several other instructors admitted to urinating on the picture throughout the evening or failed to take action to remove or have the picture removed from the urinal. The investigation also revealed that the picture remained in the urinal throughout the evening, where numerous members of the public and family members of the graduates, including children, were exposed to this despicable and reprehensible act.
Chief of Fire Patrick Kelly conducted pre-disciplinary hearings for the charged employees and dismissed the charges against one instructor and a probationary cadet.
He found the following charged employees guilty and issued unpaid disciplinary suspensions:
FGF Mark Edwards plead “no contest”, was found guilty and was issued an unpaid suspension of 9 working days;
FGF Robert DiSanto plead “no contest”, was found guilty and was issued an unpaid suspension of 9 working days;
FGF Brian Webb plead “no contest”, was found guilty and was issued an unpaid suspension of 3 working days; and,
FGF Louis Ruggerio plead “no contest”, was found guilty and was issued an unpaid suspension of 9 working days.
Chief Kelly determined that, if found guilty, the charges against Captain Roy Ziganti, Captain Louis Hahn, Captain John Whalen, Lt. William Lipke, Lt. Bruce Ryan, and probationary cadet James Papcke would require discipline that would exceed the level of discipline he was authorized to impose.
Therefore, he referred these charges to the Office of the Director of Public Safety On Friday, January 31, 2014, Assistant Director of Public Safety Edward Eckart conducted disciplinary hearings for the following employees:
Captain Roy Ziganti pled “not guilty” to the administrative charges. He was found “guilty” and was demoted to the position of firefighter, is not permitted to participate as an instructor for the remainder of his career and will be assigned to a fire suppression position at the discretion of the Chief of Fire.
Captain Louis Hahn agreed to plea “guilty”, accepted a 30 day unpaid suspension, is not permitted to participate as an instructor in the up-coming academy class and waived his right to grieve the disciplinary action.
Captain John Whalen agreed to plea “no contest with a guilty specification”, accepted a 15 day unpaid suspension, is not permitted to participate as an instructor in the up-coming academy class and waived his right to grieve the disciplinary action.
Lt. William Lipke agreed to plea “guilty”, accepted a six month unpaid suspension, agreed to remove his name for consideration on the up-coming Captain promotional examination, is not permitted to participate as an instructor in the up-coming academy class and waived his right to grieve the disciplinary action.
One additional fire officer was charged, found guilty by Chief Kelly and forwarded to the Director’s Office for final disposition. He is currently out on sick leave. A hearing will be scheduled upon his return to duty.