Firefighter embezzlement case moving forward

May 22, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

A Bill of Information was filed Wednesday morning in the case of a former Portsmouth firefighter charged with taking money from IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) Local 512.

Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn said the Bill of Information charges Eric C. (Clint) Wallace with one count of theft and two counts of forgery.

“He’ll be arraigned in front of Judge (William T.) Marshall,” Kuhn said. “And they will schedule it for the next arraignment date. I’m not sure when that’s going to be.”

Through a public records request in March of this year, the Daily Times obtained two letters sent by Portsmouth Fire Chief Bill Raison and Portsmouth Mayor David Malone to Wallace.

The first letter from Raison, sent on Dec. 18, 2012, read, “You are hereby notified that, effective immediately, you are placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into possible criminal actions relating to the International Association of Firefighters, Local 512. Pending the outcome of an investigation by the Portsmouth Police Department, you will remain on paid administrative leave. You are instructed to not enter any Portsmouth fire station until further order of Fire Chief William Raison.”

On Feb. 6, 2013, another letter went out, this one from Malone, which read, “This letter is to inform you that your administrative leave status is hereby terminated. You are now being placed on suspension without pay, effective Feb. 8, 2013. Your suspension shall be for five calendar days, excluding holidays and weekends. This action is being taken in accordance with Article 38 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the city of Portsmouth (and) the IAFF Local 512.”

The letter continued with the reason for the suspension.

“On Dec. 14, 2012 you met with members of Local 512 to conduct a financial audit of the Union’s finances.”

The next three lines in the correspondence are redacted because Raison said they deal directly with the ongoing investigation. The letter than references the rules and regulations set forth in the Administration and Policy Manual of the Portsmouth Fire Department, which governs all members of the department.

Under the topic, “Portsmouth Fire Department Disciplinary Policy” it defined Level 3 offenses.

“Your actions constitute the following violations: Actual or attempted theft; engaging in criminal, dishonest, immoral or disgraceful conduct,” the letter read.

Under the city of Portsmouth Personnel Policies and Procedures manual, it reads, “Conduct that interferes with with operations, that discredits the city, or that is offensive to the citizens of co-workers. Conduct which adversely affects the reputation of the employees, or reflects unfavorably on the city.”

“He has not been arrested and he has not been indicted,” Kuhn said Wednesday afternoon. “A Bill of Information would be something that would be done in place of an indictment. It is our belief that he will waive his right to be indicted as part of this.”

Union President Scott Osborne said at the time the case first saw public light that it was when they began to look into union financial records that the issue was discovered.

“What really started it was just a simple form that did not get filed,” Osborne said. “It was a tax exempt form. And what was going on is we were losing our tax exempt status. And to regain that, it turns out we had to file three years worth of financial records. When we went to get those records, they weren’t there. So we went to re-construct them, and that’s when we really started to see some of our irregularities in our banking and in things like that.”

Osborne said the union began an internal inquiry into the facts.

“Once we we realized what we could potentially be dealing with we immediately went to the police department,” Osborne said. “We gave them everything, and they started a criminal investigation.”

“We’ve got a whole bunch of bank records that we’ve gone through,” Kuhn said. “And we’ve got a real good feel for the case. We met with the different members of the Firefighters union at least four different times going through those records with them, and they have been really helpful in getting this case together. That’s the previous officers and the current officers - they have been working really well on this.”

Osborne, like Raison, stressed that no taxpayer money was involved in the alleged embezzlement. The funds were from dues paid out of the pockets of firefighters.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.