RI senator accuses Central Coventry firefighter of disability fraud
By: Alexandra Cowley
The fire lieutenant is already out on paid injury leave, and now that he wants disability, he's drawing a lot of scrutiny. That scrutiny came from facebook posts, that have people questioning how injured he really is.
The Central Coventry fire district remains in receivership and three of its five stations are still closed. The cash strapped district is operating on loans, which is why Senator Nick Kettle says taxpayer money shouldn't be abused.
“Why should the taxpayers have to pay for something that's fraudulent?”asked Senator Nick Kettle.
Kettle is outraged, because of what he believes is a fraudelent disability claim. He's referring to Lt. Michael Stevens, a 12–year veteran of the Central Coventry fire department.
Stevens has been out on injury leave for more than a year, collecting his salary of 47 thousand dollars.
“I was with mike when it occurred and he was injured on duty,” said Captain David Gorman.
Captain Gorman says stevens injured his knee jumping out of one of the fire trucks.
Kettle says he's not denying Stevens was injured, but he wants to know why Stevens has filed for a disability pension, while participating in marathon bike challenges.
Kettle said, “He's applying for a disability pension and showed that he was riding his bicycle in the Pan-Mass challenge which is a 160–mile bicycle ride.”
We found the posts on Stevens page, one in which he admits it's for rehabilitating his bum knee.
We caught up with Stevens at his home. He didn't want to show his face on camera, but willingly answered all of our questions.
“I think it's just a lot of assumptions, biking is not firefighting,” said Stevens.
Stevens says he ran marathons before his knee injury and wasn't going to let the accident keep him from being active. He went back to school and got his business degree.
Applying for the disability pension, Stevens says, was the next step for a work related injury.
“it's one of the better disability cases I've seen because he's actually trying to better himself,”said Captain Gorman.
Stevens disability application is pending, and he says, he hopes he doesn't need it.
“Hopefully I don't have to take the pension if it does go through, because I just finished grad school and I have an interview this afternoon,” he said.
If Stevens' pension application does go through, he will receive 37, 113 annually, according to The office of Treasurer Gina Raimondo.
(C) WLNE-TV 2013