Joe Piccinini, the chief of the Central Calaveras Fire and Rescue Protection District in Calaveras County, California is under fire following a report that has been released about Piccinini’s handling of his previous job. On July 1, 2009 Piccinini resigned as chief of the Anderson Fire Protection District in Shasta County, a job he took in October, 2007. He had been placed on administrative leave before resigning.
The report, from the Shasta County District Attorney’s Office, makes numerous allegations about Chief Piccinini. But no criminal charges are being filed because the statute of limitations to file charges has expired. So far, his bosses in Calaveras County are sticking by him.
In a report released today (Monday), Shasta County Deputy District Attorney Erin Dervin wrote that there was evidence Joe Piccinini had given alcohol to minors numerous times, driven drunk in fire department vehicles and had also used them to remodel his home.
Piccinini’s Gold River attorney, Daniel Thompson, said he’s not surprised the charges weren’t filed.
He said the investigation was based on “hearsay and internal witness testimony” amid a “tide of bias or political agenda.”
Both the Shasta County Grand Jury and an investigator the department’s board hired to look into the allegations found that employees had accused Piccinini of watching pornography on his work computers.
He was also accused of getting publicly drunk in uniform, berating and sexually harassing employees, misusing district property, funds and staff for personal gain, purchasing items without authorization and knowingly furnishing alcohol to a minor.
Among the allegations was that Piccinini had forged a first responder certification from his former employer, the Tulsa, Okla., Fire Department to get a job in Anderson.
Tulsa authorities reported that records the department had were in “shambles” or “garbage” or a “mess,” Dervin wrote.
“We certainly couldn’t prove any fraud beyond a reasonable doubt,” Dervin said.
Deputy District Attorney Erin Dervin wrote in the report that numerous witnesses quoted Piccinini as saying to the minors: “If you’re old enough to die for your community, you’re old enough to drink.”
Piccinini did not immediately respond to a phone message left Tuesday afternoon at Central Calaveras Fire and Rescue Protection District headquarters.
Central Calaveras district board President Bill Schmiett said he had been aware of the allegations against Piccinini since before his district hired Piccinini.
“When we hired him, he told us all about his travails in Anderson Fire Department,” Schmiett said. “We had him super background investigated.”
By the time the Redding Police Department finished the criminal investigation at the request of Anderson police – to avoid an appearance of a conflict of interest – the one-year statute of limitations had expired, according to the report.