Suspended Lieutenant accuses Camillus Fire Department of misuse of funds

The man who says he "wrote the checks" is accusing the Camillus Fire Department of misusing money donated to the department.

William Vivenzio told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon that he has been in touch with the State Comptroller's office. "It's misuse of funds, it's actually fraud," Vivenzio claims.

Vivenzio says he was suspended from his position as lieutenant of the Camillus Volunteer Fire Department last year over an unrelated violation of department rules, but prior to his suspension he served as an assistant treasurer.

"I personally wrote the checks two years ago, so I know what's going on. The comptroller has contacted me. It's totally against the law what they're doing. I'm as much as guilty as anybody else," Vivenzio says.

Vivenzio says he wrote checks to members of the department to attend the annual firemen's convention at the Turning Stone Casino. Depending on rank, he says the checks ranged from $750 for the chiefs to $100 for firefighters. Vivenzio says many of the members of the department pocketed the money. He says checks were also distributed for this year's event at the Turning Stone.

Vivenzio says he made out the checks the "2 percent fund." He says under state law, volunteer fire departments are allowed to dip into the 2 percent fund for such things as parties and parades, but they can not personally benefit financially.

Vivenzio says he informed the Camillus Village Board of the alleged fraud in a closed door executive session Monday night.

Fire Chief Doug Groesbeck was there and told Kenyon, "It's not true to my knowledge." The Chief says money distributed for the Turning Stone event "did not come from the 2 percent fund" but "came out of the department's general fund for training."

Groesbeck says it is "okay as long as the membership votes to accept it." He says a recent audit found the department is in compliance with state regulations governing not for profit organizations.

Deputy Mayor Ann Eckert is aware of the controversy but says the village is not involved. "The stuff that I'm hearing about doesn't really pertain to the Village Board, it pertains to the Fire Department. It's their money," Eckert says.

Groesbeck and several others say Lieutenant Vivenzio is making the allegations because he is upset over his suspension. But Vivenzio says, "It's not sour grapes. I'm not here to cause trouble for them, I'm here to get it straight."