Howell volunteer firefighter admits falsifying records

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A Howell volunteer firefighter has admitted he falsified documents crediting his brothers with years of service in the state-run Length of Service Awards Program (LOSAP), Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced.

On March 27, William Donahue, 54, of Howell, pleaded guilty to four counts of fourth degree falsifying records. As part of Donahue’s plea agreement with the prosecutor’s office, a recommendation for probation will be made at his sentencing scheduled for June 2 before state Superior Court Judge Richard W. English, sitting in Freehold, according to a press release.

Also as part of his plea agreement, Donahue forfeited his current position as a volunteer firefighter with the Freewood Acres Fire Company in Howell and as a commissioner with the Howell Fire District 5 Board of Fire Commissioners. Donahue also forfeited all future public employment and offices in New Jersey.

According to the prosecutor, the Howell Board of Fire Commissioners adopted a LOSAP at about the time Donahue became a member of the Freewood Acres Fire Company around 1998.

The LOSAP provides active emergency services organization volunteers, like volunteer firefighters, deferred compensation benefits as an incentive and reward for volunteer service to the community. Benefits increase with each year of active service in the fire company.

Donahue was responsible for annually certifying which members of the fire company qualified for a “year of service” under the LOSAP. Members had to complete a certain percentage of activities in the fire company to qualify for a “year of service” credit, thus increasing their LOSAP benefits, according to the prosecutor.

Donahue falsely credited his two brothers with years of service in the LOSAP.  One brother left the Freewood Acres Fire Company and has been serving as a firefighter in another county since at least 2007. The second brother resigned from the Freewood Acres Fire Company in July 2011.

In November 2012, the prosecutor’s office launched a corruption tip line designed to solicit the public’s assistance in identifying and targeting corruption, fraud and misconduct occurring in local governmental agencies, according to the press release.

Citizens may report concerns via the following: Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office corruption tip line at 855-7-UNJUST (855-786-5878) or via email at corruption@mcponj.org and write “Corruption/Misconduct Tip” in the subject line of the email.

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