A Southington police dispatcher is accused of calling out sick to work at his other job as a volunteer firefighter and officials said he was reaping benefits from both jobs.
Police told Eyewitness News this case is more of an ethical issue. They said when Stephen Chapman called out sick, he wasn't there to help the citizens when they had an emergency.
Chapman, who was holding hands with his wife, appeared in Bristol Superior Court on Monday on one count of second-degree larceny.
"We plead not guilty. We're going to wait and see," said Aaron Jainchill, who is Chapman's attorney. "When we learn all the facts, we'll comment then."
Chapman has been working for the Southington Police Department for six years. He's also a volunteer firefighter for Plainville.
Officials say between 2008 and the spring of this year, he called out six times and went to eight fires instead.
On top of collecting a little over $1,100 in sick pay, police said Chapman received a $52 total stipend from Plainville.
Plainville Town Manager Robert E. Lee said volunteer firefighters also get tax breaks. Depending on how many they respond to, it can be up to $1,000.
"He's supposed to be here, answering calls for service when folks call 911 for either medical, fire or police aid here in Southington," said Lt. Michael Baribault, who is the Southington public information officer. "You're not able to perform that function, but then you go and perform the function of a firefighter while you're supposed to be helping the citizens of Southington."
When Chapman called out sick, Southington police had to bring someone in on overtime to fill in for him. Ironically, that's how they found out.
Another dispatcher also works as a volunteer firefighter in Plainville told police after Chapman called out sick he saw him at the firehouse.
"He had this smirk on his face, put his hand up to his mouth and made a couple faked coughing sounds," according to the arrest warrant.
Chapman is currently on paid administrative leave from the police department.
Southington residents were upset after hearing about Chapman's arrest.
"Trying to deceive the town and its citizens by trying to get extra when he's not entitled to it, really, just doesn't seem fair to anybody," said Pat LeBrun of Southington.
Chapman is due back in court on Aug. 1.
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Friday, July 18 2014 3:26 PM EDT2014-07-18 19:26:33 GMT
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