Former Salem firefighter fired amid allegations of mishandling charity funds


SALEM (FOX 25 / Former Salem firefighters union president Lt John O'Leary denies claims that he misappropriated more than $25,000 from the union's charitable fund and pocketing the money.

O'Leary was a 16-year veteran of the department and was fired last month.

Multiple sources tell FOX 25 that the city brought in a private auditor to investigate. They concluded that O'Leary withdrew money and reported donations to a fund for late Salem firefighter, William Hudson, a Lynn firefighter, and the Salem Parks and Recreation Youth basketball program. There's local charities like the one Beth O'Grady runs in honor of her brother who died in a car crash.

The Stephen O'Grady foundation is on a list of charities O'Leary is accused of hitting. Those affiliated with the foundation claim they never received funds promised to them by the firefighters' union fund while O'Leary was in charge.

"We received a letter inquiring for verification of donation that firefighters union made to the Stephen O'Grady Foundation," o'Grady tells FOX 25's Crystal Haynes,"and I started questioning my own book-keeping, but we're a small foundation and we're pretty aware of who's donating to us, and they had in the past, but not in recent years."

O'Leary's private attorney Joseph Dever says there's no evidence backing the claims and told the Salem News quote, "If anything, O'Leary is guilty of poor record-keeping."

O'Leary has appealed his firing to the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission no date has even set for that hearing.

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