8 Cleveland firefighters disciplined for urinating on former fire chief Daryl McGinnis's photo

CLEVELAND - Eight Cleveland firefighters were suspended - including onewho was also demoted - after they were found guilty in administrative hearings of urinating on their former fire chief’s photo in a bathroom urinal, the department said today.

On Aug. 16, 2013, several firefighters were out celebrating their training academy graduation at two bars in Kamm's Corner when the group decided to urinate on a photo of Cleveland Fire's former fire chief, Daryl McGinnis.

The eight firefighters were found guilty of violating the department's code of conduct; specifically, neglecting duty and engaging in behavior detrimental to the good reputation of the Division of Fire, the department's disciplinary memo states.

Read the full report.

One more firefighter, who is out on sick leave, was found guilty but will be disciplined upon his return.

According to the department, the second-in-command at the training academy, Capt. Roy Ziganti, took a cell phone picture of the portrait after it was placed in a urinal at the bar. He then sent it to a friend and asked her to send it to the former chief anonymously.

Ziganti pleaded not guilty to the administrative charges, and was found guilty, demoted to the position of firefighter, is not permitted to participate as an instructor for the remainder of his career and was assigned to a fire suppression position.

Four other instructors admitted to urinating on the photo throughout the night, or they did not remove the photo or stop others from urinating on it. Three instructors pleaded not guilty and were found guilty. All seven were handed unpaid suspensions.

Charges against two firefighters were dismissed.

“The facts of the investigation showed that ranking officers and training academy instructors abused their authority, participated in unprofessional conduct and conveyed to the graduating firefighters that such conduct was acceptable,” said Director of Public Safety, Martin L. Flask. “The actions brought dishonor to the ranks of Fire officers and most importantly, failed to provide our newest firefighters the leadership they deserve and all of us expect.”

The incident was reviewed by the city's Internal Affairs investigator.

The firefighter's union, Local 93 of the International Association of Firefighters issued a short statement on the discipline: “We believe the punishment was excessive considering former chief McGinnis only received a verbal reprimand for threatening a firefighter.”

Four firefighters were disciplined by Cleveland Frie Chief Patrick Kelly:

  • 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.
Four firefighters' cases were forwarded to the Cleveland Assistant Director of Public Safety for adjudication due to the seriousness of their charges:
  • 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

 

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