The State Worker

Cal Fire agrees to soften punishments of three demoted academy captains

Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott
Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott

Cal Fire has agreed to soften the discipline it imposed on three former captains who were demoted in the wake of a high-profile scandal at the department’s Ione Academy, according to settlement documents released Thursday to The Sacramento Bee.

Salvador Bruno, Cole Periera and Michael Roe were all demoted from fire captain to fire apparatus engineer earlier this year for allegedly drinking while on duty at cadet graduation celebrations and allowing subordinates to do the same.

The settlements end their demotions in either eight months or nine months, depending on the case, and then restores each man to his former rank. That means all three firefighters will be captains again by mid-November.

Before the settlements, two of the demotions ran a year or longer. Roe’s was indeterminate.

In three years, the settlements state, the department will remove from each employee’s file all evidence of the discipline and the matters leading up to it.

In exchange for the shorter demotions, all three men agreed to drop their appeals and to attend supervisory training that includes how to identify substance abuse.

Bruno, Periera and Roe appealed their punishments to the State Personnel Board, but earlier this month decided to settle with Cal Fire rather than take their case to a full hearing before an administrative law judge.

The terms of the settlements became public after approval by the five-member board, which oversees the state civil service system.

All three were named in a broader CHP probe last year that found academy managers drank alcohol on state time, stored and shared inappropriate photos and sex website links on state cellphones, assaulted women, misused state vehicles, disobeyed orders and made false statements to investigators. In one instance, a manager admitted to using a state vehicle to meet prostitutes in Sacramento.

In all, 16 Cal Fire employees resigned, were fired or demoted in the wake of the investigation.