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Firefighter Cited For Driving Firetruck Without a License

The Eagle Tribune via YellowBrix

July 26, 2010

HAVERHILL — Police have issued former firefighter Kevin Thompson a citation through Haverhill District Court for driving a firetruck without a license, Mayor James Fiorentini said.

If the city wins a criminal conviction against Thompson on the driving charge, Fiorentini said yesterday he will ask the Haverhill Retirement Board to revoke Thompson’s pension. The board earlier this week awarded Thompson, 52, a $3,474 monthly pension, plus lifetime health insurance.

Thompson spent four months in a New Hampshire jail this year on automobile charges, but continued to get paid during his incarceration by keeping it secret from city officials. He kept his paychecks coming by using vacation time and getting other firefighters to cover his shifts.

When Thompson was released from jail and returned to work, the city discovered he hadn’t had a valid driver’s license in 18 years. When officials asked the firefighter to report to the police station to answer questions about his incarceration and whether he had ever driven a firetruck without a license, Thompson quit his job and filed for retirement benefits.

City Solicitor William Cox said “the only applicable provision which would allow for the forfeiture of a retirement allowance, in a case such as this, requires a conviction for a criminal offense involving violation of the laws applicable to the employee’s office or position.”

Thompson, who is considered a habitual driving offender in New Hampshire, has not had a valid license in that state since 1992. Massachusetts revoked his license in 1987.

“I ordered this investigation to get all the facts and protect the taxpayers of Haverhill,” Fiorentini said. “We’re going to be aggressive in protecting the taxpayers. If (Thompson) is found guilty, we’ll go back to the Retirement Board and ask that his pension be revoked.”

Early yesterday, Fiorentini told The Eagle-Tribune that police issued a request for a criminal complaint against Thompson. But later in the day he explained the process in a motor vehicle case is for police to issue a citation. Either way, the process going forward is the same.

Similar to a request for a criminal complaint, a clerk magistrate will now hold a hearing to determine whether the case may go forward against Thompson. Information about whether a date for the hearing has been set could not be obtained yesterday. The mayor did not know.

Fiorentini said he believes police cited Thompson for driving a city vehicle without a license on multiple occasions, but he said he has not seen the citation. He said the paperwork would not be made public until after the magistrate’s hearing. By law, a magistrate’s hearing is closed unless both sides agree to open it.

The citation is the result of an investigation by police Chief Alan DeNaro at the direction of the mayor. It also is focusing on finding out whether any firefighters knew about Thompson’s incarceration and helped him keep it from city officials. Information about that aspect of the investigation was not available yesterday.

Thompson lost his New Hampshire license after he was convicted of several driving violations, including aggravated driving while intoxicated.

New Hampshire labeled Thompson a “habitual offender” in 1992.

He lost his Massachusetts driver’s license in 1987. Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles officials said Thompson was found guilty of drunken driving in 1977.