The Buffalo News is reporting the fraud case against a volunteer firefighter and his wife in Niagara County is being closely watched throughout the state of New York.
James J. Moreland, 66, and Shirley Moreland, 65, face felony charges that claim Mr. Moreland responded on 177 fire and rescue calls with the Wendelville VFC while out injured from his job with a blacktopping company. It happened between 2009 and 2011. Prosecutors say Moreland received $45,000 from the state workers’ compensation fund.
According to the news report by Thomas J. Prohaska, the issue is whether the couple made false statements on forms about abiding by rules that prohibit volunteer work.
Defense attorneys said the couple didn’t think volunteer fire participation is what the state meant by volunteer work.
“He basically brought coffee to the guys who were fighting fires,” Viola said. “Wendelville knew of his limitations, crafted solutions.”
Prosecutor Sloma said some members of the Wendelville fire company testified against the Morelands before a grand jury, but numerous other members have stonewalled her efforts to learn details of what Moreland did on those calls.