Newberry fire chief on administrative leave during probe
Published: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 7:16 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 7:16 p.m.
Newberry Fire Chief David Rodriguez has been placed on administrative leave and is under investigation for allegedly billing the city for tree service done at the home of his son.
Alachua County Sheriff’s Lt. Todd Kelly said the billed amount of the work was $2,800.
The city, meanwhile, is auditing invoices, purchasing procedures and related matters, according to a city news release.
Kelly said Rodriguez also works as the code enforcement officer. The allegation is that he contracted with a tree service company to remove some trees at a property.
“The tree service went to the city of Newberry to be paid. After the city cut them a check, they started questioning it because they have a contract with a different tree service,” Kelly said. “Essentially, the allegation is that the fire chief did services at his son’s house and then had the tree service paid by the city as if it was a code enforcement work.”
Rodriguez’s son lives in High Springs.
The city’s news release said Rodriguez was placed on indefinite administrative leave without pay on Friday. Lt. Ben Buckner has been appointed as the interim fire chief.
The city is making an effort to resolve the matter as quickly as possible, the news release said. City Manager Hal Ashby did not return a phone message left at his office.
Kelly said sheriff’s detectives have forwarded information from their investigation to the State Attorney’s Office for review.
Potential crimes include fraud, grand theft and inappropriate actions by a public servant, Kelly said.
Rodriguez has worked for Newberry since 1991 when he was hired as a part-time firefighter. He worked his way through the ranks and as chief supervised a department of 16 employees, according to the city’s website.