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May 16, 2013

A Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted 13 Cleveland firefighters Wednesday, accusing them of illegally paying co-workers to cover most of their shifts -- freeing them to work other full-time jobs or run their own companies while continuing to collect salaries and benefits from the city.

The indictments, which include counts of theft in office and soliciting or receiving improper compensation, might mark the first time firefighters anywhere in the country have faced felony charges for the illegal practice, commonly known as "caddying."

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said in a news release that the firefighters each failed to work at least 2,000 hours -- the equivalent of about one year -- of their scheduled time. The most egregious case involved firefighter Calvin Robinson, who had colleagues work 8,456 hours on his behalf. That amounts to about 4 1/2 years, according to the release.

"The public's trust was violated," McGinty said in the release. "In addition to not working and receiving full pay, these individuals abused the system and collected retirement, vacation, medical and other benefits. They caused other firefighters to work multiple days without rest. Fatigued firefighters put the safety of the people [they serve] at risk as well as their fellow firefighters."

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