Amesbury firefighter fired following overtime abuse charges

Amesbury firefighter fired following overtime abuse charges

AMESBURY, Mass. — An Amesbury firefighter has been fired from the department after members of the department brought forward allegations of overtime abuse earlier last year.

In May, Amesbury Fire Chief Kenneth E. Berkenbush was made aware of the overtime abuses allegedly committed by two fire lieutenants, who were being accused of getting paid for shifts they never worked.

Chief Berkenbush then notified Amesbury Mayor Ken Gray and Police Chief William A. Scholtz, which prompted the Mayor to launch an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the allegations.

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On Friday, The Essex County DA's office announced the results of the investigation led to an indictment to be brought against Scott Cloutier, a firefighter with over 22 years of service.

According to the Essex County DA's office, Cloutier pleaded not guilty to charges of larceny over $250 and false claim to a government agency during his arraignment on Friday.

He is alleged to have stolen approximately $30,000 between January 1, 2016 and May 1, 2018 by claiming overtime for shifts he did not work.

Cloutier, who has been on administrative leave since May has now been officially fired from the department.

He was released on personal recognizance and is scheduled to return to court on March 12 for a pre-trial hearing.

The second firefighter involved in the overtime allegations was also placed on paid leave, but the investigation surrounding his case is still ongoing.

“The indictment today alleges that a city employee stole from Amesbury taxpayers by requesting and accepting pay for shifts he did not work. These actions have consequences, and it’s now up to the courts to determine how justice will be served,” Mayor Gray said. “However, I want to emphasize that these actions do not overshadow the work of the rest of the hard-working and brave members of the Amesbury Fire Department, who show up for work every day and take great risks to keep our community safe.”

A third employee was also placed on leave in May, but the investigation cleared him of criminal wrongdoing, and he has returned to work.

“The abuse of overtime represents a betrayal of trust and a theft of taxpayer money, and I am very disappointed in the alleged actions of two of the senior members of the fire department,” Chief Berkenbush said. “These incidents appear to be isolated, and the members of the Amesbury Fire Department have no tolerance for this activity.”