FLAGLER BEACH, Fla. - Flagler Beach Acting Fire Chief Bobby Pace is at the center of an investigation that once again questions the integrity of the Fire Department's leader.
The 41-year-old is accused of falsifying the time cards of Department of Corrections inmate Vitaly Tsabak (pictured, below), who was completing community service hours at the Fire Department.
Pace replaced former Fire Chief Martin Roberts, who was terminated along with three other department employees earlier this year for violations involving alcohol at work.
According to an affidavit filed by the Flagler Beach Police Department, Pace signed off on Tsabak's five-hour shifts at the department, when in reality he only worked one hour.
Investigators say they were able to prove that from video surveillance in the department, but that video evidence was eventually deleted by Pace in what police say was a cover-up.
Pace was unavailable to comment Friday on the allegations, according to his co-workers. His fellow firefighters are coming to his defense.
During an interview with police, Pace said, "I never flagrantly awarded hours, I only rounded up a bit for good work." Pace said he did not know Tsabak personally, calling the allegations fabricated, according to police.
"If he's doing that, we don't know what else is going on behind closed doors," resident Alan Call said.
In a city where the last fire chief and three others were terminated amid allegations of drinking on the job, locals say it's time for a change.
"You have to be the example setter, and falsifying records isn't good at all," resident Alan Call said. "If that's going on, other stuff could be going on, too."
Some are blaming Flagler Beach City Manager Bruce Campbell for putting Pace in charge. Campbell was unavailable and didn't return phone calls Friday seeking comment.
"In my opinion, you need honest people, and at that level when you have someone in charge of other people, find somebody new, find somebody to take their spot," resident Rick Cubbedge said.
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