Boston Mayor: Firefighter's Cocaine Use 'Another Blemish'

A test showed he was not under the influence when his rig crashed into a building in January, leaving a colleague dead.


BOSTON --

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is calling a Boston firefighter's admission that he was court martialed and sentenced to confinement for buying and using cocaine in early 2008 "another blemish on the fire department."

According to military court documents obtained by Team 5 Investigates, Robert B. O'Neill "purchased cocaine from a local civilian and snorted the cocaine in his hotel room" on March 21, 2008.

" In the fire department, they need to regain the public's trust."

- Boston Mayor Menino

O??Neill was found guilty and served three months confinement. His appeal is pending.

"It enforces our suggestion that we asked for drug and alcohol testing. In the fire department, they need to regain the public's trust," Menino said.

O'Neill was at the wheel of a ladder truck that rolled down a Mission Hill street and crashed into an apartment building in January killing fire Lt. Kevin Kelly.

The drug tests results showed that O'Neill had no illegal substances in his system at the time of the crash. Brake failure is the suspected cause of the accident.

When NewsCenter 5's Kelley Tuthill went to O'Neill's home, she was given a written statement, signed with O'Neill's name, which read, "While on my second tour of duty serving my country I had a temporary lapse in judgment, which I admitted to and served my punishment. Since that time I have been in treatment with Veterans Administration, and have been clean and sober for one year."

" I have been in treatment with (the) Veterans Administration, and have been clean and sober for one year."

- Robert O'Neill

"If there is policy is place, he should be disciplined for not coming forward to his superiors," Menino said.

The mayor applauded O'Neill for seeking treatment, but said the city should have known about it.

" He should be disciplined for not coming forward to his superiors."

- Boston Mayor Menino

The issue of drug testing for Boston's firefighters has been a volatile one in recent years, especially since an August 2007 West Roxbury blaze in which two city firefighters died.

Autopsies showed one had cocaine in his system. The other was found to have had alcohol in his bloodstream.

After those findings, the mayor called for mandatory drug testing as part of the firefighters' contract.

The issue remains unresolved, and the firefighters?? union has yet to come to terms with the city on a new contract.

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