Amesbury Firefighter Loses Job Following Overtime Abuse Allegations

Lt. Scott Cloutier was placed on administrative leave in May after being accused of putting in for OT he did not work

A Massachusetts firefighter has been fired from his fire department amid allegations of overtime abuse.

The firing of Amesbury Fire Lt. Scott Cloutier came on Friday, the same day as his first court appearance in Salem Superior Court on a charge of larceny over $250 and filing a false claim to a government agency.

Cloutier's indictment was announced earlier this week, months after he was placed on administrative leave following accusations that he put in for about $30,000 in overtime shifts he didn't work.

A second firefighter is facing similar allegations. A third firefighter was cleared of wrongdoing and returned to work.

"These actions have consequences, and it's now up to the courts to determine how justice will be served," Amesbury Mayor Ken Gray said in a statement on Tuesday, when the indictment was announced.

Authorities said when city officials were informed of the overtime abuses, Gray ordered a detailed investigation which ultimately led to a grand jury indictment.

"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," said Amesbury Fire Chief Kenneth Berkenbush said. "These incidents appear to be isolated, and the members of the Amesbury Fire Department have no tolerance for this activity."

Officials said the situation has led to changes in the supervision and keeping of overtime records, as well as overtime policies and practices.

In addition to the Amesbury Fire Department, the investigation has been handled by Massachusetts State Police and the Essex County District Attorney's office. The investigation into overtime fraud allegations against the other Amesbury firefighter is ongoing.

Cloutier was released on personal recognizance after he pleaded not guilty during his arraignment on Friday. He's due back in court on March 12 for a pre-trial hearing.

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