Is Clark County firefighters’ abuse of sick leave criminal?

Victor Joecks

It's been apparent for years that Clark County firefighters have been gaming sick-leave policies to inflate their salaries.

Consider this egregious example of sick-leave abuse that an arbitrator noted in his decision to accept Clark County's final offer over the firefighters'.

In 2009, he took 48 days of paid sick leave, without ever taking 4 days in a row, so the Chief could require a certificate of illness. He worked 63 of his 121 scheduled shifts, took 11 days of vacation, and worked 92 shifts of overtime/callback. (County Ex. 16Y) He earned $232,187 for the year.

We've known for years these kinds of shenanigans have cost taxpayers millions of dollars, but now Commissioner Steve Sisolak is pointing out that these abuses might be criminal as well.

A Clark County commissioner has called for a criminal investigation into allegations of firefighters abusing sick leave.

Bolstered by critical comments from an arbitrator, Commissioner Steve Sisolak is sending letters to the FBI, the Metropolitan Police Department, the district attorney's office and the state attorney general's office asking that they look into whether some firefighters conspired to use sick leave to pad each other's paychecks and pensions.

When Commissioner Sisolak first started pointing out salary abuses by Clark County firefighters, some firefighters tried to intimidate him.

In retaliation, members of the union showed up at Sisolak's public meetings to glare at him. He said he received death threats, which prompted county administrators to post park police at commission meetings. A city firefighter posted on Facebook that she'd like to shoot him.

Commissioner Sisolak should be applauded for not backing down in the face of these shameful intimidation tactics. Taxpayers need advocates who will stand up to powerful, politically connected and well-funded special interests like the firefighters union and ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent appropriately. More lawmakers should join with Commissioner Sisolak to ensure that waste and fraud, especially potential criminal activity, are eliminated in all of Nevada's fire departments.