Letters to firefighter allege criminal conduct

March 5, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

Through a public records request, the Daily Times obtained two letters sent by Portsmouth Fire Chief Bill Raison and Portsmouth Mayor David Malone to the former firefighter being investigated for embezzlement of funds from IAFF Local 512, the firefighters union.

The first letter from Raison, sent on Dec. 18, 2012, to Eric C. (Clint) Wallace, 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. It goes on to say - “Your actions constitute the following violations: Actual or attempted theft; engaging in criminal, dishonest, immoral or disgraceful conduct.”

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.”

It goes on to say that pursuant to Section B, Paragraph 3, Wallace has the right to request a hearing before Raison.

Raison told the Daily Times that after he announced the suspension, Wallace resigned.

IAFF Local 512 officials say they are cooperating fully with the Portsmouth Police Department in their investigation of Wallace.

“Shortly after I took office in June (2012), we also voted in a new secretary, Alex Prater, and he and I noticed some, let’s say, irregularities, and some questionable activity in our records,” Local 512 President Scott Osborne said. “We couldn’t really find any supporting documentation on it.”

Osborne said it was then that they began to look into union financial records.

“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.”

Leading the investigation for the city of Portsmouth is detective Andy Dawes who said he is in the process of wrapping up his investigation and expects to deliver his case to Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn next week.

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.