Five Fla. Firefighters Arrested in Certification Scheme

Five Fort Lauderdale firefighters and one former member of the department have been charged with using forged medical certification cards.

Officials from the Broward State Attorney's Office say the documents were discovered during an August 2011 audit by the Florida Department of Health that launched a year-long probe, according to The Sun-Sentinel.

The allegedly bogus certifications were for Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support sanctioned by the American Heart Association.

The certification earns paramedics a bump in pay and is required for employment with the city.

Current firefighters Seve Loleski, Freddie Batista, Gregory Jones, Joseph Perri and David Mercado were charged in the corruption probe.

Michael Reimer, a former firefighter who recently resigned, was also charged and remains at large.

All of the firefighters, except for Mercado, are on administrative leave without pay.

Mercado is on paid administrative leave.

"The city of Fort Lauderdale takes these charges extremely seriously and will continue to fully cooperate with the investigating authorities," City Manager Lee Feldman told the newspaper.

"This is by no means a reflection on the more than 450 men and women who proudly serve Fort Lauderdale as members of our outstanding Fire-Rescue Department and who put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve the residents and visitors of this city."