By Joe Gorman
A retired firefighter agreed to pay $50,000 back to Boardman Township this week after he pleaded guilty to a charge he traded shifts with other firefighters.
Clifford Phillips, 50, of Meadowood Circle in Poland, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Mahoning County Area Court in Boardman to a misdemeanor count of complicity to receive improper compensation.
He also agreed to pay the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation $2,000 to reimburse its costs for helping township authorities to investigate the case.
County Prosecutor Paul Gains said two firefighters were suspended for a week without pay for helping Phillips but were not charged because they cooperated with authorities. Fire Chief George Brown said he did not want to identify the firefighters and referred a reporter to township Administrator Jason Loree, who did not return a message seeking comment.
Phillips has an unlisted phone number and could not be reached to comment.
Gains said Phillips pleaded guilty to trading shifts with other firefighters as he worked at a business he owns.
He said the township and the union representing firefighters have since banned the practice.
Gains said the trading was going on for about six months before it was stopped.
The charges began as part of a probe that began in 2012, when township police asked BCI to help them in the investigation.
Brown said Phillips has been a firefighter with several area departments and began working in Boardman in 2003. He retired in December 2012.
Brown said the actions of Phillips and the other two firefighters are not typical of members of the department.
“This does not reflect on our other firefighters,” Brown said.
Gains said it took a long time to bring the case to a resolution because there were some complicated legal issues to resolve, such as collective-bargaining law.