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Fort Lauderdale firefighter charged with extortion. Accused of recording chief’s conversation with union president.

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A Fort Lauderdale firefighter was arrested after police said he threatened another member of the fire department to disclose information about a criminal case.

Steve Loleski, 35, was arrested by Fort Lauderdale Police Wednesday and faces one count of extortion/threats and one count of criminal attempt to solicit or conspire, according to online records. He remains in the main jail on $51,000 bond.

Erika Pesantes, Sun Sentinel:

The criminal investigation focuses on Loleski and five other firefighters who allegedly counterfeited their medical credentials and gave false official statements, according to the warrant.

According to the arrest warrant, Loleski taped a conversation between Fort Lauderdale Fire Chief Jeffrey Justinak and William Humphrey, president of firefighters union Local 765 IAFF, that took place in Justinak’s office about six months ago.

On July 9, Loleski told Humphrey he wanted to know whether three fellow firefighters being investigated had “cut a deal.” Loleski threatened to make the taped conversation public and oust the union head if he didn’t offer the coveted information, the warrant said.

During Thursday’s hearing, Loleski’s attorney, Brian Silber, told Hurley his client’s actions did not amount to extortion.


Loleski allegedly threatened to jeopardized an ongoing investigation if the victim, a member of the Fort Lauderdale Fire Department and their bargaining union President, did not disclose information about an open criminal investigation by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department and the FBI/ . Prosecutors say Loleski and five others are implicated in that investigation for allegedly counterfeiting their medical credentials and providing false statements related to the investigation to law enforcement officials. 

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Comments - Add Yours

  • AbsoluteReality

    IF True … Perfect.!!!

    One Knuckle-Head off the streets and a job opening for someone.

    A “Win-Win”.!!!

  • ukfbbuff

    If he falsified his medical training Documents, this is one reason to terminate him and making an illegal tape recorded conversation may be another (depending on State Law) but extortion makes it another serious matter and so he should be dismissed after a “Due Process” hearing.

    • Retired 201

      In Florida a felony to record a conversation without all parties consent.

  • FMCH6444

    Sheesh. Despite this being a (relatively) isolated incident, it’s going to cast a big black eye on the fire service. I’m waiting to hear the Teabaggers in their full throated glory screaming about “Union thugs!”

  • John W


  • RK

    It’s amazing to e. how many people are so quick to wish someone fired. I guess I’ll get flamed for it, but here is how I stand:

    If he falsified documents, I agree that is wrong and he should be disciplined. Whatever that discipline is determined to be is hat they all should have gotten. It sounds however as if similarly situated employees were being treated more favorably. Exposing management for doing wrong, if they were doing so, is not only not extortion, it’s what the union President should have been doing.

    I would be curious how he doesn’t fall under whistle blower protection.

    Sounds like the rest of you who have commented favor the good ole boy system.