Orlando Firefighter Claims Cover-Up

Firefighter says he was a scapegoat.


ORLANDO, Fla. --

There are claims of a city cover-up. An Orlando district fire chief, demoted for cheating on his promotions exam, came to Channel 9 saying he was a scapegoat.

Rudy Johnson was eventually demoted once a city investigation concluded he had heard the promotions test played out on a two-way radio a day before he was to take the test himself. Johnson, Monday, finally gave his side of the story.

The promotions test was a simulation where firefighters used two-way radios to talk. Johnson and the other firefighters are accused of eavesdropping. He said it was on a channel anyone could listen in on. He said they didn't cheat and now alleges it is a cover-up.

Assistant Chief Rudy Johnson is one of the two Orlando fire chief's demoted for cheating on a tactical exam. He's speaking for the first time and alleging a cover-up. He claims Chief James Reynolds told him and the three others accused at the time to deny everything and the city would take care of it.

"If we just tell them we didn't violate any rules or break any rules, it's over. They were more concerned about the image of the fire department than the truth," Johnson told Eyewitness News.

"Anyone in this dept, if accidentally came across the test, would know the second they were there that it would be wrong to continue to listen," said firefighter union president Steve Clelland.

Clelland says Johnson was considered a good firefighter with a promising future before the cheating allegations and says no one was out to get him and there is no cover-up. Now the State Attorney's Office is investigating possible criminal charges.

Johnson said he was notified in December, but has yet to be interviewed by an investigator. He said he's willing to take a polygraph to prove his innocence.

"I just want everyone to come forward and tell the truth," he said.

"I think Rudy has further disgraced himself and continues to disgrace the department," Clelland said.

The State Attorney's Office will not comment on an ongoing investigation. Orlando's fire chief was not available but released a statement saying it stands by the investigation and Johnson has never reported any acts of misconduct or filed an official complaint with the city.