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August 25, 2019

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Second county firefighter terminated for sick-leave abuse

Firefighter sick-pay fallout

KSNV coverage of firefighter sick-pay fallout, July 21, 2011.

Steve Sisolak

Steve Sisolak

A second Clark County firefighter has been fired for abusing the Fire Department's sick-leave system.

Battalion Chief Renee Dillingham, one of the firefighters named in February when Clark County administrators discovered e-mails appearing to show the county employees conspiring to abuse the sick-leave system, was let go, a county spokesman said Thursday afternoon.

In released emails, Dillingham received an email from Battalion Chief Gina Geldbach-Hall that said: "I will be taking off June 10, 17, 19, 21, 23 and 25 (all sick days if I can work it out...). Again, thanks. It is so much nicer having a scheduler I can work with."

Dillingham had also sent an email that hinted at the existence of two work rosters: "Please do not post the August roster with SICK. I have added the other roster for posting and the sick is for you to take home."

County officials believe the "SICK" roster was used to work out the use of sick days weeks or months ahead.

In 2010, Dillingham earned $274,309 in total wages and benefits. That included base pay of $93,000, $7,433 in sick-leave and about $29,000 in call-back pay, which is earned when a firefighter is called in to work within 12 hours of their last shift. Call-back pay equals overtime pay of time-and-a-half plus a county contribution to the employee's retirement account.

The average total wages and benefits for all firefighters in 2010 was more than $180,000.

Since instituting tighter oversight of firefighter sick-leave in February, the county has seen a 32 percent average decline in sick-leave use per pay period.

Firefighter Donald Munn, based in Laughlin, was fired by the department in May for misuse of sick-leave, and more disciplinary actions are expected involving at least a dozen more firefighters.

"This shows that our system is working," county Commissioner Steve Sisolak said Thursday. "The chief has done a thorough investigation and hopefully we can pursue (Dillingham) to get back the money we lost to her."

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