There are bombshell allegations surrounding the case of a D.C. firefighter on paid leave for nearly four years.
Taxpayers have paid an estimated quarter of a million dollars to a woman who hasn't worked an hour while the department sits on her discipline case.
A high-ranking official with close ties to that investigation is revealing why this case has dragged on for so long. Sources tell FOX 5 News that there is a growing frustration in the fire department over the Natalie Overton case.
For the first time, we spoke with someone closely tied to the investigation with first-hand knowledge of the case. This person would not go on camera, but told FOX 5 there is great fear that this case will open a can of worms and could implicate top brass.
On the roster for Engine 14, Natalie Overton is still marked as “ADL.” It is the code for administrative leave with pay.
A FOX 5 investigation has revealed that she has been on leave since May 2007 and is still getting her $72,000 annual salary while the department sits on her discipline case. The department says it is waiting for an Inspector General’s report to be completed.
"The case has been referred to Inspector General’s office. We're waiting for them to conduct an investigation. At this point, it’s out of our hands and we don't touch it. It’s being investigated by another agency," said Pete Piringer, spokesman for D.C. Fire and EMS, on Tuesday.
However, FOX 5 has learned there may be other reasons to hold the case. In an exclusive interview, a source directly involved in the investigation came forward with alarming allegations saying, "This is ridiculous. All the time and troubles I put into this and they got me peeved. They are sitting on it. This is a big thing. It's corruption. They didn't have the energy or the time to deal with it."
The source provided very specific details of the investigator and the names of those involved.
The source told FOX 5 that there was enough information to move on the case by March 2009.
"The investigation revealed some very damaging misuse of money. Once she was on leave, the investigation revealed that a whole lot of people, including high ranking officials, knew what was going on and stood on the sidelines and watched," the source said.
During the internal fire department investigation, Overton's computer and files were confiscated, according to the source.
The source also alleges the Inspector General’s investigator also complained about not getting proper cooperation from the fire department's internal affairs.
Internal scheduling records obtained by FOX 5 shows that Overton has been on paid leave for three and a half years and it has cost taxpayers an estimated $255,000.
"Excellent people turned a blind eye. Nobody would do the job to clean it up. A lot of people could go down. This incident changed my opinion of people I have worked with for many, many years,” said the source who conducted part of the investigation.
FOX 5 vetted this source for days to verify his information and his position. He says a lot of people know more, but are afraid to come forward.
We contacted the fire department and asked for a response to this story, but have not heard back from them as of 9:30 p.m. Thursday.
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