1. #1
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    Exclamation Tampa Fla..Firefighters and Porn...AGAIN!

    Check out the top stories. This was breaking news locally about 30 minutes ago. Involved dancers from a local strip club coming to the station, posing nude and riding on the apparatus. Pictures apparently leaked out on the internet and fell in hands of a child who gave them to his dad.

    This was the headlines from a breaking news story on the FOX Network in Tampa. www.wtvt.com (Channel 13)

    FIREFIGHTER SCANDAL

    A pornography scandal at a New Tampa firehouse has cost a veteran fire captain his job. Four other veteran firefighters have been suspended for weeks without pay. The fire chief says the firefighters allowed a New Tampa firehouse to be used as the stage for nude, pornographic photos of two women, posing on a fire truck, and wearing fireman's gear. The women are dancers at a local strip club. The photography session, which took place in October at New Tampa Station 21 in Hunter's Green, was discovered by some young boys, who ran to their father after spotting the women and flashing lights. Investigators then found some of the photos on the internet.

    From WFLA TV (News Channel 8)
    Video Link to WFLA TV
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    I cant pass judgment until all the proof has been reviewed OK my bad - I can see this coming out as one of those priceless commercials! What were you thinking????
    -I have learned people will forget what you said,
    -People will forget what you did,
    -But people will never forget how you made them feel!

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    Don't some of there people read newspapers and see what has happened to thier brothers in NYC and Sacramento. My god, I would really like to be able to feel sorry for them but c'mon ... how stupid are they ?
    Maybe it's a bit harsh but they deserve everything they get.

    Firefighter arson, fights and drinking in the houses, nude women in the houses and trucks at strip bars .... man, it just doesn't get get any dumber.

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    The news reported that the Captain was initially fired by the Fire Chief and this action was supported by the Mayor. (Incidently...the Chief is only on the job for a few months after replacing the last Chief that was more or less dismissed..... However, he has been on the Department for many years, starting there as a firefighter I believe.)

    Later they decided to allow the Captain to use his leave and retire as he was only 10 days from 20 years in the department.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    how ironic,

    young boys report naked women/porn. I bet they were real young.

    I hope this is all better than its made out to be by the media...

    Lammrover
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    Saw the report on Ch.8 at 6pm. Oh my
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

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    Stupid, moronic, dumb, idiotic....
    Stupid, moronic, dumb, idiotic....
    Stupid, moronic, dumb, idiotic....
    Stupid, moronic, dumb, idiotic....
    Stupid, moronic, dumb, idiotic....
    Stupid, moronic, dumb, idiotic....
    Stupid, moronic, dumb, idiotic....
    Stupid, moronic, dumb, idiotic....
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    Default what can you say ?

    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
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    While I don't agree with any of this behavior, you have to be really DUMB to do this and take pictures. If you are going to do this, NO EVIDENCE. Especially when you are supposed to be working and not screwing around. Enough of this crap already.
    "I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we know the work which a fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling."

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    I don't believe it, how can people still be involved in this activity after all that has happened in other places.

    On a side note anyone got copys the pics?? lol

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    While this is truly absurd, it will continue to happen.

    Equally tasteless though are the female firefighter calendars that use fire apparatus and gear for background. I couldn't care less why or for what cause, it is still in bad taste and this seems like a natural escalation from it.

    Sadly, we'll see something equally as stupid within a month. No wonder public respect for the fire service has been waning.
    "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

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  13. #13
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    I guess the difference between this and the female or male firefighter calendars is that the calendars are used as fund raisers for charity and are approved by Administration. Additionally, the pictures, while in various stages of dress are not nude and do not expose genital areas or breasts.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    I heard they were changing the name of the Tampa Fire Department to the "East Sacramento Fire Department."......tasteless I know, but since when have I cared?
    Proud Right-Wing Extremist since 1992

    "Extreme Liberalism is a Mental Disorder"- Michael Savage

  15. #15
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    Default Thursday February 3, 2005--St. Petersburg Times

    5 punished for fire station hi-jinks
    A fire captain is fired, and four others are suspended after snapping pictures of strippers.
    By BRADY DENNIS, Times Staff Writer
    Published February 3, 2005


    TAMPA - The call came in December from a man claiming to be an angry father.

    His son was playing basketball with friends in October, he said, when they saw flashing lights coming from a nearby Tampa fire station.

    He said the bay doors were closed, but the boys peeked in on a scene that had nothing to do with fighting fires - a woman wearing high heels, red lipstick and nothing else, clinging to a shiny Tampa Fire Rescue engine as men snapped pictures.

    The caller never left his name. And no one ever confirmed his story.

    But his call sparked a fire of its own: A six-week investigation by city officials and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that involved lies and attempted coverups, career threats and promises to pay for another's silence.

    At the center of the storm is Al Suarez, 44, a fire captain who officials say organized a photo shoot involving two strippers at a North Tampa fire station. Suarez, a longtime city employee, is former head of the firefighters' union and a friend and vocal supporter of Mayor Pam Iorio.

    But none of that saved him Wednesday, when he was fired 10 days before his 20th anniversary with the department. Four other firefighters were suspended without pay for two to four weeks.

    Their bosses were left to clean up the mess.


    * * *

    According to the investigation, Suarez met one of the strippers and one of the men who took photos that day through firefighter Michael Berwald, who also worked part time at Thee Dollhouse nude club in South Tampa.

    Suarez was off duty Oct. 17 and met the strippers, identified only as Jamie and Heather, at a Chili's restaurant. They followed him to Station 21, in the Hunter's Green community, where several firefighters taped garbage bags over the windows.

    The photo session started with Jamie posing in a bikini with a fire hose wrapped around her. Both Jamie and Heather propped themselves against the red truck wearing only firefighter pants and suspenders.

    Soon enough, both women were naked (except for high heels), still using the firetruck as a prop.

    Stephen Johnson, a longtime department employee and football coach at a Hernando County high school, was acting captain that day. He protested when he came into the room and saw bare breasts, the report stated. But Suarez assured him everything was okay, and Johnson returned to the captain's quarters.

    The performance in the station reached an audience far beyond its walls. Investigators said more than 50 photos showed up on Web sites, including one where the stripper, Jamie, kept a diary:

    "I met up with Heather and we went to this Fire Dept. and she took a reeeealy cute set of pics of me!" Jamie's entry read. "There were like 5 guys (cute I might add) that were sitting in chairs gawking ... ."

    It wasn't the last the women would see of Suarez, according to the investigation. They performed at his bachelor party in his home weeks later, on Nov. 4, two days before he married Samantha Ward, a Hillsborough County assistant public defender.


    * * *

    Tampa fire officials spent five days in January interviewing 23 employees about what happened that October day. At first, every one of them denied knowledge of the event.

    Officials say Suarez contacted many of them after the photo session, urging them to lie and not cooperate. He promised them "they would not be disciplined because the city would not be able to prove that the incident occurred."

    He also threatened career repercussions if the men didn't protect him. And he told at least one of them that should the man get fired, Suarez would pay his salary "until he could get his job back."

    In the end, the coverup failed.

    Last weekend, in a second round of interviews, the men at the station that day came clean. That included Suarez, who until Wednesday had earned mostly praise during his two decades at the department.

    Supervisors described him as "a natural leader" and "a professional in all aspects." They lauded his "good judgment" and wrote that he "consistently strives to support and improve the image of the fire rescue department."

    In his last evaluation, in August, Suarez wrote, "I look forward to many more years with TFR."

    He pushed for leadership, eventually becoming head of the firefighters' union. He saw to it that the union stayed neutral in the mayor's race in 2003, despite the fact that Bob Buckhorn initially garnered the most union votes.

    Soon after, Suarez resigned as union president for "personal reasons." Then he appeared at a fundraiser for Iorio. The firefighters also endorsed Iorio in the mayoral runoff.


    * * *

    On Wednesday, not even the mayor could defend her friend's actions.

    "It's a big organization, and people aren't always going to do the right thing," said Iorio, who said she hadn't spoken with Suarez and that his past support didn't factor in the decision to fire him.

    She called the punishment of everyone involved "appropriate" and said "the worst part of it ... was the attempt to cover it up."

    Aria Green, the city's former fire chief whom Iorio fired last fall only a month after she gave him a glowing evaluation, said he wasn't surprised to hear about the incident at Station 21.

    Green, known as a disciplinarian who often butted heads with the union, said he banned all pornographic material at the city's fire stations when he took over.

    "I wanted to have a more professional atmosphere," Green said.

    He said his policies met with resistance from the union. Asked about what happened at Station 21, he said, "I believe the union helped create that environment. These individuals are supposed to show leadership. They are not supposed to lead (subordinates) into this sort of thing."

    Fire Chief Dennis Jones, Green's successor, said he was "embarrassed" by the incident.

    "I was shocked. I was appalled," he said. "I hope people won't judge the entire department by these four or five individuals. I hope this (punishment) sends a message."

    Current union chief Larry Parker said the union will discuss whether to appeal the firing and suspensions. "I don't know if you can say it's unfair," he said. "We expected some very hard punishment."

    TH E PUNISHMENTS
    AL SUAREZ, hired Feb. 12, 1985. Fired for insubordination, neglect of duty, moral turpitude and breach of peace. He will use vacation time until Feb. 12, when he can retire with an annual pension of $44,000. Will lose $4,707 in unused sick pay.

    STEPHEN C. JOHNSON, driver engineer, hired at Tampa Fire Rescue on Oct. 22, 1989. Suspended one month for insubordination, neglect of duty and moral turpitude. Will lose $5,007.36 in pay.

    MICHAEL D. LAYTON, firefighter, hired April 22, 1991. Suspended three weeks for insubordination, neglect of duty and moral turpitude. Will lose $3,452.12 in pay.

    MICHAEL A. CAMPBELL, firefighter, hired June 2, 2003. Suspended two weeks for insubordination, neglect of duty and moral turpitude. Will lose $1,269.12 in pay.

    MICHAEL BERWALD, firefighter, hired June 2, 2003. Suspended two weeks for insubordination, neglect of duty and moral turpitude. Will lose $1,269.12.

    [Last modified February 3, 2005, 04:43:15]
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
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    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  16. #16
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    Default Thursday February 3, 2005, Tampa Tribune

    Captain Fired Over Photos Of Strippers On Firetrucks

    By VALERIE KALFRIN vkalfrin@tampatrib.com
    Published: Feb 3, 2005


    TAMPA - Naked photos of two strippers at a city fire station, including one wearing a bikini top and clutching a fire hose, cost a fire captain and former union president his job Wednesday.
    Capt. Al Suarez was fired and four others suspended after an internal investigation discovered the photos taken Oct. 17 at Fire Station 21 in New Tampa.

    Suarez, 44, arranged for two unidentified men and the women, identified only as Jamie and Heather, to visit the station about three weeks before the women performed at his bachelor party in Odessa, investigators said. Tampa police and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement later found 97 pictures from the fire station photo shoot on the Internet, some depicting genitals.

    Suarez met Heather through Thee Dollhouse Lounge on West Shore Boulevard. One of the suspended firefighters, Michael Berwald, works there off- duty, investigators said.

    During the inquiry, which began in December, officials learned Suarez urged Berwald and the others to lie about his and their involvement. He threatened ``career repercussions'' if they did not protect his identity and offered to pay one man's salary if he were fired, reports show.

    ``I am appalled,'' Fire Chief Dennis Jones said. ``Any time we're talking about nude females or anyone nude in the fire station, it's embarrassing.''

    Suarez led Local 754 of the International Association of Fire Fighters for about seven years. He married Samantha Ward, who works for the public defender's office, on Nov. 6. Jones, Mayor Pam Iorio and former Mayor Dick Greco attended the wedding.

    Suarez supported Iorio during her mayoral campaign. She said she was surprised and disappointed in him Wednesday.

    ``Trying to cover it up, then trying to get the others to be untruthful, that kind of behavior is totally unacceptable,'' Iorio said.

    Greco also was stunned. ``Al's a real nice guy, but that's a horrific mistake,'' he said. ``You wonder what in the world anybody was thinking.''

    Suarez earned about $76,000 a year. He will use annual leave until Feb. 12, when he retires after 20 years with an annual pension of $44,000. The firing means he forfeits $4,707 in unused sick leave.

    The firefighters' union said it may appeal. ``We don't want to see anyone terminated over what we'd consider a momentary lapse of judgment,'' union president Larry Parker said.

    Reports show Suarez, who was off duty, called Stephen Johnson, a driver engineer and the station supervisor that night, to say he was ``coming by with some friends to take pictures of the firetruck.'' Suarez asked firefighter Michael Campbell and Berwald to tape garbage bags over the station windows.

    Johnson ``expressed dismay'' at seeing one of the women topless but should have called a supervisor, reports state. Johnson, 41, earns about $65,000 a year and will lose about $5,000 during his four-week suspension.

    Firefighter Michael Layton, 37, will lose about $3,500 in pay over three weeks. Berwald, 36, and Campbell, 25, each will lose about $1,300 in pay over two weeks.

    None could be reached for comment Wednesday. Personnel records show none has prior discipline.

    An anonymous phone call on Dec. 20 started the investigation.

    Jones said he at first thought the complaint was bogus, but within weeks investigators found photos on the Internet with enough detail to identify the truck as one at Station 21.

    They also found an online diary from one of the strippers in which she wrote: ``We went to this Fire Dept. and she took a reeeealy cute set of pics of me! It was a lot of fun, but there was a total audience. There were like 5 guys (cute I might add) that were sitting in chairs gawking ... hehe!''


    Reporter Andy Reid contributed to this report. Reporter Valerie Kalfrin can be reached at (813) 259-7800.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
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    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  17. #17
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    The local news at noon was quite. Nothing else on the story.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
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    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  18. #18
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    Bump
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  19. #19
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    Default Update

    St. Petersburg Times--Hernando

    Firefighter won't lose coaching job
    Hernando Christian Academy stands behind its football coach after strippers performed at his fire station.
    By JOHN SCHWARB, Times Staff Writer
    Published February 4, 2005


    The Hernando Christian Academy football coach will not lose his job over his role in a Tampa fire station incident involving strippers.

    Steve Johnson, a 15-year veteran of Tampa Fire Rescue, coaches Hernando Christian Academy's year-old football team. He was suspended from the fire department for one month without pay.

    A six-week investigation by Tampa city officials and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement uncovered numerous infractions surrounding a photo shoot involving two strippers at a Tampa fire station.

    Fire Capt. Al Suarez was terminated, while Johnson, acting captain on the day of the shoot, was punished for insubordination, neglect of duty and moral turpitude.

    Johnson would not comment Thursday on specifics involving the case.

    According to the investigation, Johnson protested when he came into the station and saw bare breasts but returned to the captain's quarters when Suarez said everything was fine.

    "I'm still the same Steve. I just got into something I had no business being around," said Johnson, 41.

    Before the report became public, Johnson called HCA superintendent David Holtzhouse to explain.

    "He gave us the courtesy of letting us know what was going to be released," Holtzhouse said. "He was very clear about what his involvement or lack of involvement was in the situation.

    "We've always held Steve in high regard as far as his character and his integrity. We have no reason to think that has been compromised at all."

    When asked if any HCA parents had called regarding the story, Holtzhouse said, "the phones have been very quiet today."

    Johnson, a county resident who also works in real estate, is the architect of HCA's football program.

    He is the team's coach and his son, Stephen, was the starting quarterback during the team's first season in 2004.

    Johnson said he would discuss his situation with the players.

    "I think it affects my testimony with the kids; it's something I'm going to have to talk to them about," Johnson said. "Through the transgressions of one person, it flows through a whole lot of other people. That's a bad thing."

    [Last modified February 4, 2005, 00:18:17]
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
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    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  20. #20
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    Is Tampa hiring- sounds like a fun place to work!
    My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
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  21. #21
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    Fire Officials Uphold Dismissal Of Captain

    Published: Mar 12, 2005




    TAMPA - Tampa Fire Rescue officials on Friday denied a grievance filed by a former fire captain dismissed over a photo shoot involving strippers at a New Tampa fire station.
    Fire Chief Dennis Jones and personnel chief Todd Spear heard Al Suarez's appeal to be reinstated. Suarez was fired Feb. 12 after an investigation determined he arranged the Oct. 17 photo shoot and then urged others to lie about it.

    Four other firefighters were suspended.

    Suarez said he was fired without cause and accused suspended firefighter Michael Berwald of planning the shoot. Berwald and a stripper said Suarez was responsible.

    Suarez brought cell phone records to the hearing to corroborate his story, officials said. He also brought a transcript of testimony from the other firefighters highlighting what he calls inconsistencies.

    Jones and Spear, however, ruled the discipline was appropriate. Suarez has seven days to appeal.


    Valerie Kalfrin
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
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    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  22. #22
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    Default Here is another story that I did not see..it posted before the final outcome!

    Report details nude firehouse shoot
    Newly released records show that an exchange of favors may have been behind the photos that led to a fire captain's dismissal.
    By SHANNON COLAVECCHIO-VAN SICKLER, Times Staff Writer
    Published March 11, 2005

    -------------------


    TAMPA - One day before the grievance hearing in which Al Suarez will ask for his job back at Tampa Fire Rescue, city officials released additional records that point to Suarez as the organizer of a nude photo shoot at a New Tampa fire station.

    The five-page report by Tampa Police Detective J.D. Tindall, released Thursday, details his interview last month with one of two strippers featured in the photos, as well as her fiance.

    Heather Renee Swafford and her fiance, Richard Nicholas Busino, portrayed their visit to Station 21 as a case of them getting one favor in exchange for another.

    Suarez, a longtime fire captain preparing to marry a Hillsborough public defender, wanted strippers at his bachelor party.

    Busino and Swafford, a stripper at Thee Dollhouse in Tampa, wanted a new photo backdrop for the adult Internet site they run from their Lutz home.

    Let us pose at one of Tampa Fire Rescue's stations, they told Suarez, and we might arrange for the strippers at your bachelor party, according to Tindall's report.

    They met Suarez Oct. 17 at a Chili's in New Tampa and, with another stripper who called herself Jamie, followed Suarez to Station 21 off Cross Creek Boulevard.

    Swafford and Jamie, later identified as Jayne Denise Mattocks, posed in front of a fire truck for pictures. The racy pictures ended up on various Web sites under titles like "Jamie's Firehouse Fun."

    Busino then arranged for Swafford and Mattocks to strip at Suarez's Nov. 4 bachelor party. He paid them for their services.

    "Busino said that it was never part of the deal with Suarez to have the dancers attend the party for free," Tindall wrote.

    That alleged deal has cost Suarez his career and his reputation as a rising star within the department.

    Last month, a six-week investigation into the incident concluded that Suarez, 44, organized the shoot with the strippers.

    Four other firefighters at the station that day - Steve Johnson, Michael Berwald, Michael Layton and Michael Campbell - were suspended.

    Suarez was fired. But Mayor Pam Iorio and Fire Chief Dennis Jones let him use several vacation days so that he could stay on the books until his 20th anniversary with the department.

    The move allows Suarez, former president of the firefighters union and a friend of Iorio, to get his full pension.

    Suarez filed his grievance earlier this month, asking to be reinstated to his nearly $80,000-a-year job. He also wants back pay. The grievance hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. today. Suarez's attorney Bob McKee maintains that Berwald, who worked part-time at Thee Dollhouse, organized the shoot through his connections with Swafford and then lied to investigators.

    Berwald and the other three firefighters initially lied to investigators, but later came forward. They all said Suarez and two other fire captains called them frequently after the photo session - pressuring them to lie to about the firehouse incident and threatening them if they told the truth.

    Swafford, 31, and Busino, 27, initially turned down Tindall's interview request, citing "fear of retaliation" and "fear of their testimony being the instrument of severe discipline of those involved," according to his report.

    But they called the next day, Feb. 1, and told him they were ready to talk.

    Tindall sat with the couple at their dining room table. Busino did all the talking, Tindall wrote, but Swafford "sat in and concurred with Busino."

    Busino told Tindall they met Suarez when he came into Three Dollhouse one day while off duty.

    "According to Busino, Suarez was very anxious to discuss getting dancers at the bachelor party," Tindall wrote.

    At the end of the interview, Tindall asked Busino if Suarez had coached him about what to tell investigators.

    "His response was "no comment,"' Tindall wrote. Tindall then asked Busino if Berwald had called him and pressured him.

    "He said "no,"' Tindall wrote.

    McKee, Suarez's attorney, said he will present evidence at today's hearing to show that Berwald organized the photo shoot.

    McKee said he will provide the results of a polygraph test that Suarez passed.

    Fire rescue administrators have seven days after today's hearing to rule on Suarez's request for his job back. If they deny him, Suarez can appeal to the city's director of human resources, Sarah Lang. If Lang rejects his request, he can seek arbitration.

    "I would reallly like to focus on all the good stuff we do and move on," Chief Jones said. "But it just won't go away."

    Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler can be reached at 813 226-3373 or svansickler@sptimes.com

    [Last modified March 11, 2005, 01:22:10]
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  23. #23
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    Stripper's Account Implicates Suarez
    By VALERIE KALFRIN vkalfrin@tampatrib.com
    Published: Mar 11, 2005




    TAMPA - A stripper's account of a nude photo shoot at a firehouse will be among the evidence officials will consider today when they meet to re-evaluate the dismissal of a city fire captain.
    Heather Renee Swafford, 31, and her fiance met with Tampa police detectives in their Lutz home Feb. 1.

    Their conversation, as described in an investigative document released Thursday, disputes the statements of former Capt. Al Suarez. Suarez has said he made a ``stupid mistake'' by leading two strippers and two photographers to Fire Station 21 in New Tampa on Oct. 17, but he said the photo shoot was not his idea.

    Suarez, 44, was fired Feb. 12 after an internal investigation determined he had arranged the photographs and later urged four firefighters to lie about the pictures, which appeared on the Internet.

    The four other firefighters were suspended.

    Fire Chief Dennis Jones released the document, which is a police supplement to the fire department's investigation. The fire department enlisted the Tampa police and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in the investigation.

    Swafford's fiance, Richard Busino, spoke for the couple, and she supported his statements.

    Jones said he did not receive the report until Feb. 9, a week after the decision to fire Suarez was made, but he did not think it necessary to wait for the document before disciplining Suarez. He thought taped interviews with Suarez and the other firefighters provided enough evidence.

    Suarez filed a grievance last week over his dismissal. He accused one of the suspended firefighters, Michael Berwald, who works part time at Thee Dollhouse Lounge, of planning the photo shoot.

    In the document, Swafford and Busino corroborate Berwald's statements, accusing Suarez of coordinating the pictures. The couple also work at Thee Dollhouse Lounge.

    Suarez's attorney, Bob McKee, accused the couple of ``protecting Berwald.''

    The document is ``not something we didn't anticipate,'' McKee said. ``We hope to have at least one statement that corroborates Al's version,'' along with cell phone records from Suarez.

    Busino and Swafford did not return a phone call seeking comment.

    Attempts to locate the other stripper, identified only as Jamie, were unsuccessful, the document states.

    In the document, Busino describes how Berwald introduced him to Suarez to help plan Suarez's bachelor party on Nov. 4. In a later phone conversation, Busino told Suarez he wanted to photograph Swafford in front of firetrucks, the document states. In exchange for allowing that, Busino said he would ``seriously consider'' arranging for the dancers to come to the bachelor party.

    Busino assured Suarez any identifiable markings on the trucks would be airbrushed out, and Suarez agreed, the document states.

    Suarez arranged to meet the couple and another man and woman at a Chili's restaurant, and they followed him to the fire station. The dancers were ``paid in full for their services'' at the party, Busino said in the document.

    The document, a public record, will be among the evidence considered at the grievance hearing at 1 p.m. today at Tampa Fire Rescue headquarters. Suarez, McKee and firefighters union President Larry Parker will meet with Tampa Fire Rescue Personnel Chief Todd Spear, Assistant Chief of Operations Richard Vigil, and Ricky Bell, of the city's personnel office.

    After hearing Suarez's appeal, the city has seven days to respond, Parker said. Suarez can appeal to the city's human resources director, Sarah Lang. Ultimately, Suarez can take the matter to arbitration, provided the union supports him, Parker said.


    Reporter Valerie Kalfrin can be reached at (813) 259-7800.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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