FORT LAUDERDALE- Four current and one former Fort Lauderdale firefighters have been charged in connection with a fake training and certification scheme.
Firefighters Freddie Batista, Greg Jones, Joseph Perri and Steve Loleski were arrested Tuesday night and Wednesday morning by members of a multi-agency public corruption task force operating in Broward County.
A warrant was issued for the arrest of former firefighter Michael T. Reimer, who recently resigned prior to the completion of the investigation.
Firefighters are required to work a specific number of hours each year and complete refresher training in various disciplines in order to maintain their state licenses. The five men are accused in a scheme in which they allegedly obtained counterfeit training certificates without completing the mandatory courses or on-the-job hours of work.
All are facing of charges that include multiple counts of forgery, grand theft, uttering forged documents and official misconduct.
Reimer is president of Boynton Beach-based Safety Solutions LLC, an internationally recognized safety company he founded in 1996. Safety Solutions sells products and equipment and specializes in rescue and recovery training.
Batista, Jones, Perri and Loleski have worked for his firm.
The company has provided training to fire departments around the country and abroad. It has also offered training to law enforcement agencies and branches of the U.S. military, as well as foreign government.
The investigation began after a Florida Department of Health routine audit of the Ft. Lauderdale Fire Department uncovered fake certifications.
Fire Chief Jeffry Justinak turned the findings over to the Fort Lauderdale Fire Department which collaborated with the FBI, the Broward County Public Corruption Task Force, Broward State Attorney’s Office and the Broward County Office of Inspector General.
Their investigation, which is ongoing, had already resulted in the arrest of Loleski in August on an extortion and solicitation to obtain confidential information charges. In that arrest, Loleski was accused of secretly tape-recording a conversation between Justinak and William Humphrey, president of Local 765 of the International Association of Fire Fighters.
He then allegedly threatened to release the recording and oust Humphrey as head of the union if Humphrey didn’t tell him whether the other targets in the investigation had cut plea deals.
Loleski was released on bond in that case and was arrested again on Tuesday.
*Pictured Gregory Jones, Steve Loleski, Freddie Batista and Joseph Perri.