• Whistleblower sparks police investigation into cash paid to off-duty firefighters


    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - After 9 Investigates started asking Orlando City Hall about a whistleblower complaint reporting possible corruption involving cash and high-ranking fire officials, Channel 9 learned Orlando Police will investigate the complaint.

    The whistleblower claims off-duty firefighters were being paid cash for their work, with little or no documentation. The cash payouts cut the city out of a 15 percent fee.

    The whistleblower is raising more serious questions about what was happening with some of that cash.

    The complaint was mailed to the city eight days ago.

    The whistleblower claims to be a firefighter, and wrote in the complaint that he believes, “Fire department members may be coordinating events in a fashion which creates excess cash or administrative fees, which may not have been turned over to the city.”

    The whistleblower mentioned one cash event, for which the vendor paid a total of $122,000 to off-duty Orlando police and firefighters. According to the complaint, $80,000 was for police officers and $42,000 for firefighters.

    The complaint said after everyone was paid, $20,000 was leftover, and that it was delivered to a high-ranking fire official who said the cash was for administrative fees.

    But the city said when vendors pay cash, they don’t pay administrative fees.

    City officials said Orlando police are now investigating where the money went.

    City policy states that if any potential prosecutable criminal activity exists, police will investigate.

    WFTV’s legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said there are a number of potential crimes police could be looking into.

    “They could look into malfeasance in office, misfeasance in office, official misconduct or grand theft,” he said.

    Fire Chief John Miller emailed firefighters Friday about the police investigation.

    In the email he said he found out about the whistleblower complaints Friday morning, and the investigation will take some time.

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