October 2, 2014

Elyria
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Ridgeville investigates firefighter

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — A city firefighter is under investigation for allegations he worked a part-time job for another fire department on sick days he took in North Ridgeville.
Fire Chief John Reese confirmed Friday an eight-year member of the Fire Department, is the subject of a Police Department investigation that has been turned over to the county prosecutor’s office.
Reese declined to name the man or detail the specifics of the case, which later were revealed by Michael Piotrowski, attorney for firefighter Ralph Conte.
“We discovered one guy was doing something we felt was improper and we will absolutely not tolerate it,” Reese said.
“I can’t say he’s breaking the law,” Reese said. “There’s no indication of that yet, but this guy knows he’s in trouble.”
Reese did say he was expected to testify before a county grand jury next week on the matter.
A grand jury could opt to indict Conte if it finds there is enough evidence to bring charges, or it could determine there is insufficient evidence to proceed further.
Corey Stearns, president of the firefighters’ union, referred questions about the case to Piotrowski, who confirmed the man’s identity as he provided details of the alleged wrongdoing by his client.
“He is accused of calling in sick one day in 2008 and again in 2010 so he could go work a side job at the Valley View Fire Department” where he is employed part-time, according to Piotrowski.
“Those claims are simply not true,” Piotrowski said.
“At worst, it was a simple mistake on his part,” Piotrowski said.
“Ralph has admitted he messed up the calculations on what days he was permitted to work at Valley View,” Piotrowski said.
Conte has repaid the city of North Ridgeville for the time he worked in Valley View, according to his attorney, who claimed the city has no policy barring employees from working side jobs.
The amount of money totaled under $500, according to Piotrowski.
On both occasions, Conte was on extended leaves during periods of time when two of his four children were born, according to Piotrowski, who said Conte used personal or vacation or comp days to work in Valley View.
Each time, Conte was off work from North Ridgeville for periods of a month to a month-and-a-half under terms of the Family Medical Leave Act, which requires employers to grant time off for employees due to the birth or adoption of a child, Piotrowski said.
“Ralph has taken his share of sick leave, having four kids, but never to go work in Valley View,” Piotrowksi said.
Conte could face disciplinary measures through the fire department, but those would have to wait until the investigation by the county prosecutor’s office is completed, Reese said.
Conte has filed a grievance over the matter with the city’s firefighter union.
Conte continues to work while the matter continues to be under investigation, according to Reese.
North Ridgeville police Capt. Marti Garrow said detectives looked into the matter for a few weeks before forwarding the case to the prosecutor’s office.
Calls to the offices of County Prosecutor Dennis Will for comment were not returned.
“This guy has always done a decent job,” Reese said. “He’s never been in any kind of trouble before.”
Piotrowski agreed.
“But for this he’s been an exemplary fireman. He’s been an excellent employee.”
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.


  • Mark

    so, this edukated attorney says “These claims are simply not true. At worse, it was a simple mistake on his part”.

    So, first you say its not true, then you say it is… but! it was a simple mistake. Sounds like a lawyer. Confuse everyone with babble and never admit to anything. I’ve got some good mirrors for sale if you need them. Sorry, my smoke generator is broken.

  • givemeabreak1234

    Another witch hunt, prepare for the long haul. Join others such as Colon, Morales and many others that pi$$ed someone off. Good people that didn’t deserve what they got. Good Luck

    • Ray Venn

      You must be a gubment employee…

      • Pete

        Ray, you must be stupid.

        • Ray Venn

          We’ll see who the “stupid” one is after his trial, oh wait, his plea bargain.

          • givemeabreak1234

            say what you will ( perhaps you were the disgruntled employee that snitched ) he pi$$ed someone off and now he will suffer because of that and not for really doing anything wrong or anything others haven’t done. Right Rohner, Carpienter and Super.

  • Mark B

    The should come investigate in Elyria next

    • told you so

      Its the buddy system they all do it

      • givemeabreak1234

        same in LPD and when you pi$$ someone off you are the one that gets made an example of while others continue on the same path and no grand jury or charges WTF

  • KZ14

    Just another (overpaid) union worker playing stuip

  • mewa

    who cares..at least he wants to work…damned politics again..North Ridgeville at it finest ..again..

    • told you so

      Double dipping is wrong calling in sick and getting paid,then your buddy getting 24 hours ot Great for the Tax payers.

      • Rick Miller

        FIRE THE DIRTBAG!
        As a NR taxpayer, I am paying his wages while he collects a paycheck on a sick day so that he can double dip in Valley View while his Union Buddies collect overtime. Something wrong here!

        • told you so

          Rick Miller r u the former Fire Chief 4 NR

        • told you so

          You r right Rick

        • jeff

          Hey Rick this happen while u where chief? How much time have u been on stoney rdg.?
          U r the dirt bag.

  • GreatRedeemer

    Similar deal recently in Lorain working while on sick leave. Last I heard about the Lorain guy was union grievance. You would think that these firemen already get paid to sleep that would be enough. I think fire departments should be privatized, do away with all these problems. Heck everyone got a cell phone now, no reason to have more than a few guys to drive the truck to the fire.