Las Vegas Sun

May 22, 2019

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Firefighter terminated for abusing county sick-leave system

A Clark County firefighter stationed in Laughlin who logged $26,648 worth of sick leave last calendar year was fired for misusing the county’s sick-leave system.

Donald Munn, hired by the Clark County Fire Department in 1993, earned total compensation equal to $164,859 in 2010. That included wages of $112,000, health insurance of $14,600 and retirement contributions of $38,000.

His $26,000-plus in sick leave was not, however, the highest among Clark County firefighters in 2010. Munn’s was seventh highest. One firefighter earned more than $50,000 in sick leave, which was the highest, while the other five above Munn earned sick-leave amounts ranging between $26,900 and $33,800.

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, an ardent critic of sick-leave pay by firefighters after a study last year showed they call in sick twice as much as other county employees and four times as much as managers, reacted to Munn’s firing by saying the county needs to stay vigilant.

“I hope they go after more people,” he said.

He added that word is spreading that some firefighters are retiring to avoid punishment. Sisolak said he “hopes the county goes after them, too, if they are trying to escape he repercussions of their actions.”

County officials say 13 more firefighters will also be disciplined for misusing sick leave. Their names and punishments have not yet been released.

Even more firefighters, however, could be targeted. A source close to an investigation by the FBI, which is looking into the sick leave of county firefighters, told the Sun this week that federal agents are going through 2 million emails written by firefighters to see if more abusers exist. Previously, sources said the amount was 250,000 emails. Metro is also investigating.

Emails are important to the investigation because it appears that Munn and others used emails to ask for sick days, sometimes months ahead of time. The county uncovered a handful of emails during a cursory investigation earlier this year. Some of those emails came to light during arbitration hearings over the county/firefighter union contract.

Munn and two others were addressed in a June 2010 email from firefighter Jennifer Wyatt, who asked: “How does one get the entire summer of vacation?”

The e-mailed answer said this: “Answer: I have just come to a point that it just doesn’t matter. Between being sick & vac it will seem like most of the summer.”

Wyatt, a fire engineer, earned $150,937 in wages in 2010. That included $5,551 in sick leave. Her total compensation in 2010, including retirement and insurance, was $203,638.

County officials said earlier this week they had no idea when the FBI is expected to wrap up its investigation.

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