Search continues for bogus Fla. fire chief

The fake chief has been calling the federal government claiming paid firefighters are breaking the law by covering some volunteer shifts

By David Goodhue
The Reporter

TAVERNIER, Fla. — Will the real, um, no, the fake Chief Don Bock please stand up?

Commissioners on the Key Largo Fire-Rescue and Emergency Medical Services District want to know who has been calling the U.S. Department of Labor pretending to be the chief and telling the feds that the handful of paid members on the volunteer fire department are breaking the law by covering some volunteer shifts.

One of the five commissioners, George Mirabella, has been vocal in his accusations that the practice is going on in the department. He’s been so adamant that paid staffers are covering volunteer shifts that his colleagues suspect he’s behind the phone calls.

“There’s only one commissioner who has been banging the drum on this,” Commissioner Bob Thomas said at Monday’s board meeting at the mile marker 99 fire station. “George, was it you?”

Mirabella shook his head and said “no.”

Thomas also asked Frank Conklin, the president of the nonprofit fire department that served the Key Largo taxing district until its contract was severed in 2013, if he made the calls. Conklin, who is running for a spot on the Fire/EMS commission, denied he’s behind the calls.

Acrimony remains bewteen Conklin and the current board members because he made the district buy land it wanted at the mile marker 99 fire station that belonged to his department. The district was hoping the department would hand over the land for a small price, but Conklin’s department charged the district $175,000.

A new fire department was formed under the leadership of the Key Largo Ambulance Corps shortly after the district parted ways with Conckin’s department.

Thomas said he has been trying to contact the Labor Department staffer who called the district about being contacted by Bock.

“She’s not very forthcoming at all,” Thomas said.

Since someone did contact her office, she has requested, and has been given access, to payroll records. Bock said he has not heard back from her in weeks.

Copyright 2016 The Reporter

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