EXCLUSIVE: Rutland Firefighter On Leave Amid Theft Allegations
Monday, May 07, 2012
Acting Chief Seth Knipe confirmed that Bemis had been on paid administrative leave since March 29, but declined to discuss the details of why he is on leave.
“He is on leave pending the outcome of an independent investigation,” Knipe said. “It’s work-related, an on-duty situation.”
Knipe said that the matter is being handled by the town’s legal counsel and the lawyer representing the Professional Firefighters’ Union.
Bemis, who has worked as a full time firefighter/EMT for the town since 2007, said that he was placed on leave because he took a backboard from UMass Hospital.
“Rutland had been missing one for a while,” Bemis said. “I took one that I thought was Rutland’s by mistake.”
Bemis said the paid leave and the upcoming hearing are retaliation against him for exposing former Fire Chief Thomas Ruchala’s falsification of an elevator certificate, which ultimately caused Ruchala to retire.
“Apparently the acting chief and chairman of the board of selectman don’t want me around any more,” he said. “It’s retaliation – 30 days after the chief had to retire. It looks like the town it trying to get rid of me.”
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