Gilbert FD under investigation after allegations of misuse of leave time

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by Natalie Brand

azfamily.com

Posted on March 27, 2014 at 10:06 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 1 at 11:22 AM

GILBERT, Ariz. -- 3TV has learned a Gilbert Fire Department battalion chief is on administrative leave during an internal investigation into the alleged misuse of leave time.

A spokeswoman says the fire department received an anonymous letter in November 2013 and immediately began investigating.

While details are sparse and ambiguous, a spokeswoman with Gilbert confirms Battalion Chief David Rodriguez is on leave.

Dana Berchman said the town of Gilbert hired Keith Sobraske of Investigative Research, Inc. to “explore allegations relating to the misuse of leave time to work secondary employment and any other peripheral issues that may arise during the investigation.”

David Rodriguez works not only for Gilbert but is the chief of Forest Lakes Fire District in Coconino County. He was listed as “Chief Fire Officer of the Year” in 2010.

It is unknown what type of leave time was allegedly misused, whether it was sick time, vacation, extended leave or something else. However, it appears the battalion chief was off the job in Gilbert while allegedly working another job.

Rodriguez is the only Gilbert firefighter currently on leave. Others within the department have been interviewed for the investigation.

“What we have told the firefighters there is participate in the investigation, always be forthright and honest in your answers, and we’ll see what the results are,” said Bryan Jeffries, President of United Mesa Firefighters which represents the Gilbert Fire Department and other agencies in the East Valley.

“If any of our firefighters have broken the law or have broken any rules in the town of Gilbert, I believe there will be consequences, but I don’t know the results of the investigation at this point," Jeffries said.

The investigation is expected to be completed within the coming weeks, according to a spokeswoman with the town of Gilbert.

3TV reached Battalion Chief Rodriguez by phone, but he said he could not comment.

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