Broward County Sheriff’s Office photos of (l-r) Freddie Batista, Steve Loleski, Gregory Jones and Joseph Perri via sun-sentinel.com.
You may recall our August story of the arrest of Fort Lauderale Firefighter Steve Loleski accused of extortion after recording a conversation between his chief and union president. Broward County officials say this is the investigation Loleski was trying to derail with his extortion attempt.
Four Fort Lauderdale firefighters and one former firefighter face a slew of charges, including conspiracy to commit perjury, forgery, grand theft, and official misconduct.
Firefighters Freddie Batista, Greg Jones, Joseph Perri and Steve Loleski were arrested Tuesday night and Wednesday morning by members of a multi-agency public corruption task force operating in Broward County.
The men, authorities said, are accused in a fake training and certification scheme for allegedly obtaining counterfeit training certificates without completing the mandatory courses.
The investigation began when a routine audit by the Florida Department of Health discovered the fraudulent documents, according to Fort Lauderdale police. The documents in question were American Heart Association Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support Cards.
Loleski was being held on $25,000 bond. The bond amounts for Perri and Jones were unknown. It was unknown whether any of the men has an attorney.
Loleski had been arrested in August on charges of extortion/threats and criminal attempt to solicit or conspire after police say he obtained a recorded, private conversation and attempted to use the tape as a threat against another member of the department.
Police said he threatened to jeopardize an investigation if the victim did not give him information about another active criminal investigation.
According to police, Freddie Batista, a 14-year veteran, Gregory Jones, six-year veteran, Steve Loleski, 12-year veteran, Joseph Perri, six-year veteran, all face charges involving falsifying public records.
Police said Batista faces 10 counts and is being held on a $70, 000 bond. He is accused of providing the others with fake advanced cardiovascular life support cards.
Judge John Hurley explained the charges in court Wednesday morning. “If they have those cards and they’ve been certified with those ACLS cards, they’re entitled to a boost in pay, either 10 or 15 percent. What allegedly happened is, Mr. Loleski and several other firefighters allegedly, fraudulently, obtained or prepared their cards so that they can receive the pay they weren’t entitled to.”
A warrant was issued for the arrest of former firefighter Michael T. Reimer, who recently resigned prior to the completion of the investigation.
Reimer is president of Boynton Beach-based Safety Solutions LLC, an internationally recognized safety company he founded in 1996. Safety Solutions sells products and equipment and specializes in rescue and recovery training.
Batista, Jones, Perri and Loleski have worked for his firm.
The company has provided training to fire departments around the country and abroad. It has also offered training to law enforcement agencies and branches of the U.S. military, as well as foreign government.
Also on STATter911 …
- Man who trained FEMA USAR teams wanted by police. Michael Reimer, Safety Solutions, & four firefighter/employees are caught up in Fort Lauderdale training scandal. – October 18, 2012
- Fort Lauderdale firefighter charged with extortion. Accused of recording chief’s conversation with union president. – August 2, 2012
- Alabama firefighters fired on during medical call. No one hit. Man arrested. – December 28, 2012
- CT former chief & lieutenant arrested on charges they had sex with jr. firefighters. Chief served jail time after similar arrest 30-years-ago. – February 14, 2013
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