Firefighters hire accountant to review sick pay

Posted

*This article has been updated to correct the amount of alleged overpayment of sick time

With allegations swirling that Warwick firefighters are “gaming” unused sick time to get more pay than they deserve, the Warwick Firefighters Union has hired an independent accountant to review records and either validate the system or find flaws with it.
Meanwhile, the City Council is proceeding with an audit of payments following allegations by Warwick resident Rob Cote that many department personnel, including administrators and firefighters, are unjustly being paid for unused sick time, costing taxpayers what Cote calculated to be $247,850 over the course of three years. 
“We believe we were doing it right all along,” Michael Carreiro, president of Warwick Firefighters Local 2748, said Tuesday. To determine if that’s the case, Carreiro said the union has retained Ward, Fisher and Company LLC of Warwick to review the last three years of unused sick time payouts. Carreiro said firefighters don’t fill out time sheets, a job done by the chief’s secretary who then submits them to the city finance department for payment.
Why not wait to learn what the council audit finds?
Carreiro said the union doesn’t know the depth of the council probe and the union’s concern is focused on how its members are handling the process. He didn’t have an estimated cost for the accounting work being done or when it might be completed.
Carreiro said the city has ceased making monthly payments for unused sick time and that the union has filed a grievance. He said the union offered to revert to annual payments, but the city refused.
The union has been without a contract since July 1, but talks soured in May when bargaining sessions broke off. Seen as critical to reaching an agreement is the union’s claim that the firefighters did not agree to implementation of a Tier II pension plan that reduced benefits for new hires after 2015. Police and municipal employees agreed to the Tier II plan and at the time it was understood firefighters had signed on. However, after implementation of the system, the union challenged the reduction in benefits for a cohort of newly hired firefighters. The city was prepared to take the matter to superior court, but the court recommended interest arbitration.
That process concluded earlier this summer and a ruling is expected shortly.
As for the matter of a contract, that, too, is expected to go to interest arbitration. Carreiro anticipates that process to start this month.
Carreiro is hopeful the union’s review of payment for unused sick time “clears up any misinformation.” Firefighters receive 20 paid sick days annually. After banking 140 unused sick days, they are paid for 75 percent of the sick days they don’t use in a given year. Thus a firefighter who doesn’t use any of the 20 days in a year would receive pay for 15 days.
Cote, who has obtained department time and payroll records, which he has shared with the City Council, alleges by the swapping of shifts and record keeping, firefighters are “gaming” the system to collect payment for sick days they don’t deserve.
Cote started digging into the system of payment for unused sick time several years ago. He teamed up with Ken Block, founder of Watch Dog RI and former Republican candidate for governor. In his analysis of department sick time sheets, which was reported in previous Beacon stories, Block found many firefighters were getting paid the maximum amount of sick time (equivalent to 1.25 days’ worth of pay, which may be monetized monthly) even when they utilize a sick day during the month. In some cases, the sick banks of firefighters fluctuate wildly from one month to the next, including cases where firefighters with 140 days in the bank inexplicably drop down into the 70s, and others that go from lower numbers to 140.
In June the council retained the Providence accounting firm Yarlas, Kaplan, Santilli, Moran (YKSM) to perform its audit, however correspondence shared with the Beacon and acquired by Cote through an Access to Public Records Act (APRA) request has indicated that the city, through city solicitor Peter Ruggiero, required YKSM to sign a nondisclosure agreement regarding that audit, meaning that the results of their analysis may not be privy to the public upon its completion.

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WwkVoter

Will they examine the destroyed records too? Just wonderin'

Thursday, October 4
Warwick Man

Wwvoter they did and the state found nothing was done wrong, The Beacon doesn’t print that stuff though.

Friday, October 5
WwkVoter

Im confused then. I read that they destroyed some of the records after Cote put in APRA request for them. Is that not true?

Friday, October 5
Thecaptain

Wwkvoter,

There are 2 issues. Here is what happened. Pertaining to the "record of sick time" reports. After reviewing them for 2015-16 and cross referencing them with the sick pay reports, I noted that there were numerous employees time sheets missing. I made a list, submitted it to the city and made another APRA request. 3 weeks later, the mysterious missing documents re-appeared. It was evident that they were torn out of the 3 ring binders in an effort so that I could not see them. I then discovered that all of the missing records belonged to Acting Captains, Captains, Acting Battalion Chiefs, and Battalion Chiefs. They also removed and did not replace the chief and assistant chief records, and those that have retired in those 2 years. They are missing to this date.

As far as the records being destroyed. There were over 4000 Form 109 Change of Shift Records destroyed in direct violation of the State of RI records Retention Act. After the filing of the complaint, the Secretary of State and the AG conducted a training program on record retention for the WFD. During that training, the WFD convinced the SOS that the form 109's were duplicate documents which they are not. I have all of the communication from the SOS office to the WFD. The SOS was under the impression that all of the information on the Form 109"s was transferred to the Accountability Sheets, which it is not. Due to that fact, they are not a duplicate document. That is still under review, but the bigger question is, if the document is so innocuous, what is the rush to destroy them? During that "training" it was also discovered that WFD the WFD did not have the required written protocol for record retention. The reason is that the 1652 changes of shift last year, where used for issues such as extending vacations, playing softball, and preserving sick time. Furthermore, now, since no record of each mans "shift swapping" exists, how do they re-pay the shift? As an example, last year one man swapped out almost 30 shifts and never re-paid any of them.

I would encourage you to read this article to understand the impact. This is only one of many examples around the country.

http://archive.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/01/30/system_that_lets_boston_firefighters_swap_shifts_a_costly_free_for_all/

I hope you understand that there are two separate issues, both of which impact the taxpayer.

One more note, the firefighters continually say that the change of shit has no financial impact and no money is exchanged. At the budget hearings the fire chief admitted that if a higher rank covers for a lower rank on a change of shift, that he is paid the rank difference. The accountability sheets also document that fact.

As I have said many times, I am willing to show anyone the documents at any time.

Friday, October 5
richardcorrente

Dear Readers,

Don't believe Rob Cote. He lies.

From his statement 7 or 8 years ago that he was "moving out of Warwick", to the false and slanderous claim he made that my car "mysteriously disappeared from the City records for three years." Cote has proven himself, over and over, to be completely dishonest. He states his opinion as fact and his "facts" are either wildly overstated or just blatantly made up.

In my case, I called the Tax Collectors office and spoke to Kim Barbato (738-2000 X 1) who sent me ten years of absolute proof that my car has ALWAYS been on the City records, proving Cote to be a blatant liar. A month after I printed this proof in the Beacon, I called her again to see if anyone had notified her to confirm or dispute my "proof". To no surprise, NO ONE HAD CALLED! Cote didn't NEED to call and verify my car registration. He already KNEW he was lying. He lies. And I'll bet he's doing it again, so when he says records "mysteriously disappeared" don't believe it! That is EXACTLY what he said about my car registration! Wait for an INDEPENDENT, third party CPA firm to tell us the real story. Kudos to the City Council for hiring this CPA firm to prove, once and for all, who is telling the truth. My money is on the Warwick Fire Department. Anyone who wants to bet me, I'll give great odds too. (all proceeds would have to go to charity though)

A far as the Fire Department? They have a system in place and ANYONE who works in a system will try to make it work to THEIR best interest. I would. If the Firefighters system needs to be tweaked, then I'm sure the mayor, the City Council and the Fire Department WILL tweak it. The CPA firm will certainly provide much more unbiased help than Mr. Cote's lies. Won't they. And if and when there study shows that Cote is lying, he should be sued by the City for costing the taxpayers so much money from all his thousands of documents he keeps demanding.

Happy Autumn everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Friday, October 5
Thecaptain

Corrente,

You are a moronic fool.

Friday, October 5
Thecaptain

http://www.eagletribune.com/news/local_news/court-opposes-firefighters-sick-leave-abuse-appeals/article_4b2a6ba3-0b61-5cfe-8296-d40e6f2b9217.html

https://www.lasvegasnow.com/news/clark-county-firefighter-fired-over-sick-leave-abuse/77131135

https://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2012/04/cleveland_firefighter_payroll.html

https://www.reviewjournal.com/news/pers-official-explains-what-county-can-do-about-firefighter-sick-leave-abuse/

https://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/ann-arbors-307000-firefighter

https://www.firerescue1.com/labor-issues/articles/1082768-Battalion-chief-fired-over-sick-leave-abuse-in-Nevada/

http://articles.latimes.com/1994-01-13/news/mn-11383_1_westminster-fire-department

Friday, October 5
Scal1024

Just like that Rick Corrente continues to lie to Warwick voters. Perhaps this is the reason he couldn't get to 3,000 votes in the last election? It only took 2 years for him to come up with a name from the Tax Assesors office and it only took him 3 years to come up with a defense for his car taxes being delinquent. Gutless. Regardless, the most important issue is that voters know Rick Corrente is a fraud and a liar, who according to the citizenselfservice.com website THAT THE CITY OF WARWICK USES...is a tax delinquent. As usual, Ricks story is backed up with ZERO EVIDENCE, ZERO FACTS SUPPORTING IT, and ZERO SUBSTANCE BEHIND IT.

On the issue of WFD records...

I have withheld my opinion on this matter until all of the facts are in. I'm not going to slander the WFD until this firm completes their work. Rob makes an interesting case. However, there are 2 completely different stories being told here and both cannot be true. Rob insists this cannot be sloppy bookkeeping, and it seems thats exactly what the WFD has blamed this on. In the future maybe a compromise of limiting the amount of swaps per WFD member each year would be a fair solution? I'm not going to pretend I know what is fair, just trying to look at ways to eliminate this problem, however it was caused, in the future.

Finally, Rob some of your comments about the WFD Dive Team were unfair and despicable. You shouldn't be so reckless with the language you use. It's one thing to make unfair characterizations about sick time and vacation time...but when you start hitting them personally and professionally the way you did I found it disgraceful. I understand these issues get hot, you are never going to win a single heart and/or mind making such low, unlikeable statements about those who protect and serve us. I've tried giving you the benefit of the doubt in many instances but you really ought to try and be better than that.

Friday, October 5
Thecaptain

Scal,

I dont know how you can say that my comments about the "dive team" are despicable. They are fact. As a professional diver, professional instructor, technical instructor, mixed gas instructor, rescue specialist instructor, expert repair technician, and former member of the Cousteau Team Project Ocean Search, with thousands of hours of experience, and having trained over 1000 people, I have the background and credentials to call it like it is . The fact of the matter from a stand point of water rescue, the WFD are untrained and unqualified. They have been for years and continue to be. If that upsets you and you think that my comments are despicable, so be it. But I am not going to tailor my comments to anyone when presenting fact.

As I have said many times, the WFD is highly skilled in their work. Unfortunately, water rescue is not one of the areas that they excel in, and that point has been shown to be true on several occasions. I fail to see how my comments were of a nature of personal attack, despicable, or out of line. They were based solely on past performance.

If you would like to have a discussion of technical nature based upon fact,methods, and results, I would be more than happy to discuss.

Friday, October 5
Thecaptain

Also Scal,

As I have said many times before, I would be more than happy to meet with you at any time to show you the official city documents from which my data is derived.

Friday, October 5
Scal1024

Rob, I don't question your experience, and clearly you have a long resume to be proud of. My point is unless you witnessed something first hand that was reckless from the dive team I think it is irresponsible to post a comment like that questioning their skills. You laid out a case of why you disagree and thats fine.

As far as your numbers I don't think I've ever questioned the validity of anything you've stated. I've questioned whether or not there was criminal intent (you have stated you have no doubt there was based on your numbers, or do I have that incorrect?). I do want this issue looked at and any money that was paid out wrongly, should be paid back in full within a reasonable timeframe. It is possible to want tax money spent responsibly, and to support those who serve the public. The 2 things are not exclusive yet somehow I feel like in this city its looked at that way most of the time. If at the end the only thing to come out of this is more responsible bookkeeping in my opinion that is a win. If this back and forth continues for years we're going to be stuck arguing about the same things in 5, 10, 20 years. That doesn't benefit anyone.

Friday, October 5
richardcorrente

Dear Scal1024,

How can you say with a straight (albeit anonymous) face that I have "ZERO EVIDENCE, ZERO FACTS SUPPORTING IT, AND ZERO SUBSTANANCE SUPPORTING IT"? I proved beyond a doubt, through a duly authorized representative of the City Of Warwick Tax Collectors office, that I have NEVER had my car off the city records. I provided the name and phone number of the lady in that office for you to call to confirm and verify that my car was on the tax records FOR THE LAST TEN YEARS IN A ROW!

The fact that no one, including you (you anonymous coward) has called her in the last month+ further proves that you and Cote both knew your accusation was a lie from the start. You demanded proof. I gave it.

Cote lied.

You repeated it.

You're (almost) as bad for Warwick as he is. Almost. (Hey. Maybe you really ARE Cote. Maybe.)

And you repeated this ridiculous lie without verifying the facts. And you say you're not a henchman. Ha! You're the very definition of a henchman!

You anonymous COWARD of a critic! Stay in the shadows hiding behind a fake name. It's where you belong. You're not brave enough to comment in the Beacon using an honest name. You owe me and the readers an apology but we all know you're too much of a lying pile of crap to offer one.

Happy Autumn everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

P.S. And Cote's response when I proved him to be lying? He reverts to childish name-calling.

Friday, October 5
Thecaptain

Scal,

I did experience first hand of the mistakes made by the dive team in the 90's. I was actually called in to find the evidence that they were unable to find on several occasions. My point is that you cannot always depend on inter office personnel to train people that do not have the expertise in that particular discipline.

At some point you need to take the advice of the professionals in the community. However, this has nothing to do with the issue at hand which is the over payment of sick time..

Friday, October 5
Scal1024

Awww did the Tax Delinquents, Make Believe Mayor get offended because I made fun of his pathetic vote total? You want to talk about cowards Rick? A coward makes $40,000 a year and tells a judge he can only afford $10 a week because you "spent alot of money to make that $40,000" . What stands out about that court transcript is its the same type of nonsense and double speak you try using to this very day. The same way you fumbled around on the microphone like a moron at the Council meeting, wasting the time of the City Council until Councilman Ladoceur had to (lets just say) "female dog" slap you back to your seat. What was even more embarrassing was you wasted time on the mic with the SAME EXACT RECYCLED TALKING POINTS that you just lost with...FOR THE SECOND TIME.

Do you know what the definition of insanity is Rick? Its parading around for 4 years with a fake, self given nickname that describes a job title you will never have. Insanity is running for public office and expecting that no one would ever look into your terrible record of personal finances whether that be tax delinquency or losing a home to tax sale. You are a complete and total fraud who lied to voters repeatedly during the campaign, and it doesn't look like you're too eager to stop that trend anytime soon. You can call me a coward all you want Rick, I would never walk away from my obligations whether that be financial, family or otherwise. Your record has shown quite the opposite. History has shown the only person you give a damn about helping is Rick Corrente.

Rick by the way, dummy, if I were a "henchmen": Why didn't I attack Gerald Carbone during the primary? Why haven't I attacked Sue Stenhouse since her victory? Why is it only you and your trainwreck of a record that I call out? Maybe you should take me at my word when I say I think you'd be that big of a disaster as Mayor. Your words are empty and don't make any sense when you call me a "henchmen" but then again, logic has never stopped you before. You can call me any name you want Rick, that won't stop me from exposing you for the liar you are.

Friday, October 5
WwkVoter

May as well add that a COWARD fights to pay only $10 a week for HIS CHILDREN instead of getting a second job. Even a watchman job two nights a week would earn $150 a week, not $10.

Why wont this crazy old fool just go away.

Friday, October 5
Warwick Man

The captain is a disgrace to our community. A habitual liar that now attacks the capabilities of certain aspects of the Fire Department. He does this all behind a computer. When confronted on the streets after he zooms by filming us he cowers like a three year old. As for professional, Bobby didn’t you get kicked out of the civil air patrol for filming stuff illegally. Some professional you are. Didn’t you shoot a guy with a spear gun. Some professional. Didn’t you dump a $$$$load of gas down the drain. Some professional.... I could go on. You will be a laughing stock soon.

Saturday, October 6
Thecaptain

Thats funny stuff !

Saturday, October 6
PaulHuff

Captain,

I highly doubt that you were called in to locate "Evidence" that the FD missed. The Police Department has had a dive team which does evidence recovery. Your personal bias clouds your judgement.

Stop embellishing.

Saturday, October 6
Thecaptain

Paul,

For your information. In 1991 there was a car jacking on West Shore Rd. The individual was chased and caught at the Cowesset Apartments. He fled behind the apartments and tossed a gun and a knife into the pond behind the complex. The "police dive team" (headed up by Steve Branch) spent 2 days looking for the gun and the knife unsuccessfully. I got a phone call asking me to bring extra air tanks to the site which I did. I was also asked to bring my gear, which I did. When I arrived, Branch left to go to Providence to borrow a metal detector and the rest of the guys went to lunch. The officer on station who is a close personal friend asked me if I would mind going in and poking around. I went in, set my zero reference point, and proceeded to perform what is called 360 sweeps. In ten minutes I had the gun and the knife recovered. Not that this has any bearing on the issue at hand, but since you asked?????

Saturday, October 6
Thecaptain

And by the way, when did I ever say that I was brought in to find evidence that the FD missed?

Saturday, October 6
KaptainMorgan

Memory loss Rib?

"I was actually called in to find the evidence that they were unable to find on several occasions."

Saturday, October 6
Thecaptain

Does it say FD?

Saturday, October 6
KaptainMorgan

Seriously, you are going to claim that you were not referring to WFD dive team??? You lose all credibility with that statement. Listen, you are far too biased against WFD to have a truly objective conversation about them.

You do occasionally bring up valid criticism regarding all of the city departments, but your rabid pursuit of the WFD makes most Warwick citizens yawn and move on... if you toned down the rhetoric, opened your mind to accept that occasionally you could be wrong, and were more objective you would get your valid points across and effect change!

Just a thought

Saturday, October 6
Notmycaptain

1991?? Are you freaking kidding me?

In 1987 my friends recruited me to help find another friend they couldn’t locate during a serious game of hide and seek.

Saturday, October 6
WwkVoter

warwick man are you really corrente? i saw the report which fully cleared cote on that bogus gas dumping accusation. yet you seem to keep repeating it. what's next, you'll say corrente paid all his taxes on time? come on stay in reality so we can move past this FD issue. we'll all still be warwickites and need to live together in this town.

Saturday, October 6
Thecaptain

I am extremely biased. I am biased against any entity that takes advantage of Warwick taxpayers. By the way, October 15th is right around the corner. Your property taxes are due. They have gone up again. But look closely at your car taxes. They have gone down. You can just say thank you. The 11.5 million dollars in car taxes that was returned to the taxpayers was due to my relentless biased efforts. Your welcome.

Saturday, October 6
allent

scum. ill spit in those stupid boots next time iI see them

Sunday, October 7
richardcorrente

Dear WarwickMan,

For the first time ever, I find myself disagreeing with you. You said of Rob Cote "You will be be a laughing stock..."soon".

Soon? Soon?

"will be"? "Soon"? As in "he hasn't already been one for many years?"

Happy Autumn WarwickMan.

Happy Autumn everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Tuesday, October 9
Thecaptain

Case Number: 3CA-2015-07374

Filed in 3rd Division District Court Submitted: 9/15/2015 1:46:39 PM

Envelope: 331725

Reviewer: Nancy Faella

ANTHONY J. DiBIASE, JR.

ATTORNEY AT LAW

303 Jefferson Boulevard Telephone: (401) 921-4800

Warwick, RI 02888 Fax: (401) 921-4805

July 28, 2015

Richard Corrente

177 Grand View Avenue

Unit A

Warwick, RI 02886

RE: Notice Termination of Tenancy under R.I.G.L. 34-18-37

Dear Mr. Corrente:

Please be advised that this office represents the interest of Red Stick Acquisitions, LLC, the landlord/owner of the property located at 177 Grand View Avenue, Warwick, RI. You are hereby directed to vacate and remove your property and personal possessions from the premises located at 177 Grand View Avenue, Warwick, RI and deliver control of the premises to the landlord/ovmer Red Stick Acquisitions, LLC, on The first day after the end of your current rental period, namely September 1, 2015.

This notice is given for the purpose oftenninating your tenancy. You must continue to pay rent as it becomes due until the date indicated above. If you fail to pay that rent, an eviction action for nonpayment of rent may be instituted against you.

If you fail to vacate the premises by the date specified, an eviction action may be instituted against you in the Kent County District Court without further notice. If you believe you have a defense to this termination, you will be able to raise that defense at the court hearing.

Red Stick Acquisitions, LLC

CERTIFICATION

I hereby certify I mailed a copy of this notice to Richard Corrente 177 Grand View Avenue, Unit A, Warwick, RI 02886 postage pre-paid, regular mail on this 28th day of July, 2015.

Anthony J. DiBiase, JR .

Tuesday, October 9
Thecaptain

And I'm the laughing stock? Corrente, I am someone who has impeccable research skills and many tools. You clearly dont understand that. I have many more documents that I can post to continue to humiliate you, although you have done a fine job on your own.

Tuesday, October 9
Thecaptain

Almost forgot. Corrente, do you have any documents that you can point to in your feeble attempts to discredit me? I didnt think so.

Almost forgot this one.

From the court records:

" Further evidence that Plaintifff Corrente believed the order to be inequitable at its issuance is found in past court records from previous court appearances. The computation of Corrente's income has been the central focus of the past nine years of litigation.

Corrente has continually urged in past court appearances before different judges, that the Family Court's method of computing his income is inequitable because the court has not subtracted what he considers to be legitimate business expenses from his gross earnings. Appearing before Justice Michael Forte in the same matter on March 12, 1997, Justice Forte asks Corrente, "What's your annual income?" (Record, 3/12/97, page 12, line 7) Corrente responded , "Under $7000 per year, and I can prove that to you. My gross earnings is (sic) one issue. What I live off is a fraction of that, Yor Honor." (Record, 3/12/97, pg 12, lines 8-11) In the same court appearance, Justice Forte asked Corrente, "I'm asking you what your willing to pay temporarily until I can resolve this. If you're a good father - and I'm sure you're going to stand there and tell me that you are - then you're willing to pay something. How much?" (Record 3/12/97, pg 11, lines 8-13) Corrente responded - " I don't want to set a precedence (sic) Ten dollars a week is about what I can afford." (Record 3/12/97, pg 11, lines 14-16) to clarify Corrente's response, Justice Forte later asked,

The Court - "You're telling me, you can only pay ten dollars a week?"

Mr. Corrente - "Yes sir"

The Court - " You're telling me that on the record?"

Mr. Corrente - "Yes sir, I'll stand by that"

Mr. Watson - There is a W2 form that declares $40,000 in income in 1995

The Court - "What happened to that?"

Mr. Corrente - "Gross earnings, Your Honor, He's neglected to tell you the $25,000 that it cost me to make that, Your Honor."

The Court - " Well, we're going to have to wait. We'll deal with it at the hearing".

Mr. Corrente - "You cant look at gross receipts and consider them earnings, I wish you could."

In a court appearance before Justice Forte on January 28,1997, to determine his income for child support payments, Corrente stated on the record, "He (defendants attorney) does not know what my income is. All he know's is my gross receipts , and he's trying to manipulate this Court into believing that my gross receipts is my income." (Record, 1/28/97, pg 3 lines 22-25)

This small sample of on the record statements demonstrates plaintiff's concern with the court's computation of his income - specifically his contention that certain business and/or personal living expenses should be deducted from his gross earnings. It also shows the amount of money that Corrente believed he could afford to pay for child support: $10.00 per week. Corrente was aware at the time of the issuance of the May 27th court order that the court had not deducted the amounts from his gross earnings that he had wished. He was also aware the court order stated he must pay $223.15 per week for child support payments: $213.15 more than he stated on the record he could afford. It is hard to imagine how this order could ever have been considered "equitable" by Corrente in light of his previous testimony. His statement on the may 27th record confirms this theory. "

Tuesday, October 9