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Firefighter stole paramedic exam, Ohio police say

Mark Puente
The Cleveland Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND — A veteran Cleveland firefighter faces three felony charges after being accused Wednesday of stealing an exam and distributing it to his comrades.

Lt. Paul Legeza, 49, sat for the “Paramedic Functioning Test” in October 2007.

Prosecutors accuse Legeza of photographing the computer screen containing the exam questions, then using the images to create a disk of the questions and answers for the exam.

Developing a new test will cost the city $56,000, prosecutors said.

All Cleveland firefighters must be certified as emergency medical technicians. Being certified as a paramedic takes further training, since paramedics are allowed to administer drugs. Firefighters voluntarily take the tests and do not receive any additional pay from the city to work as paramedics.

Legeza faces two charges of theft in office and one charge of unauthorized use of a computer.

Chester Ashton, head of the firefighters union, said if the allegations are true, they may merit Fire Department discipline but not felony charges.

Legeza will be placed on unpaid leave until the case goes through the court system, Ashton said.

Twenty-seven firefighter/paramedics testified before a Cuyahoga County grand jury Monday about the exam. The city-administered test, which paramedics and EMS workers are required to pass every three years, emphasizes the most current medical protocols and procedures and goes above what is required for a state certification, city officials said.

Copyright 2009 Plain Dealer Publishing Co.