Cook uncovers evidence many Clark County firefighters engaged in disability fraud

Victor Joecks

A terrific column and some outstanding investigative reporting from Glenn Cook at the Las Vegas Review-Journal suggests that – on top of making sky-high salaries and abusing sick leave to drive up overtime costsmany Clark County firefighters engaged in disability fraud to further sweeten their retirement payouts.

Not coincidentally, disability retirements were quite common within the Clark County Fire Department. Between June 1994 and last year, 72 of the department’s 209 rank-and-file retirements involved Article 31 awards. Those awards cost taxpayers a total of $17.4 million, an average of $242,000 per firefighter. From 2008 to 2011, as firefighters’ income continued to grow, the payouts averaged about $320,000.

Disability retirements were more frequent among battalion chiefs. Four of the department’s nine supervisory retirements during that same period resulted in disability payouts. Those payments totaled $1.17 million, or roughly $292,000 per supervisor.

These awards were not contingent on a worker’s compensation finding and, in fact, covered many more conditions than worker’s compensation.

There’s tons more in Cook’s column, so be sure to click over and read the whole thing.

This type of abuse is outrageous, especially if you consider that we’re paying for it. It’s also just another reason we need to end collective bargaining for local government employees.