Rick Salzmann, a 37-year veteran of the Kingston Fire Department and its chief for the past 14 years, resigned abruptly rather than face termination over what Mayor Shayne Gallo called serious issues with “time and attendance” that came to light during an internal audit of department records.
Salzmann tendered his resignation on Monday, Jan. 23, shortly after a meeting with Gallo, City Comptroller John Tuey, Corporation Counsel Andrew Zweben and Police Chief Egidio Tinti to discuss the results of the audit.
“I put (Salzmann) on notice that he was suspended without pay and that I would seek his termination as penalty and refer the matter to the district attorney,” said Gallo of the meeting. “He then submitted a letter of intent to retire.”
Gallo, citing the DA’s investigation, declined to elaborate on the irregularities discovered in what he described as a “spot audit” by Tuey. But he added that Tuey, Zweben and Tinti had all expressed “serious concerns” about the matter prior to the meeting. The audit, Gallo said was part of an ongoing effort to centralize accounting for the accrual of time, vacation days and other benefits which are currently handled by department heads.
“The purpose is to have more transparency and accountability for department heads who, up until this point, had been self-policing their time and attendance,” said Gallo.
District Attorney Holley Carnright confirmed that his office was investigating a matter involving Salzmann which was referred by the Kingston Police Department but declined to discuss specifics of the case. But Gallo said that the DA would likely contract with a forensic accounting firm specializing in fraud to assist with the probe. Gallo said that the city was prepared to pursue civil action against the former chief if the allegations were shown to have substance. Gallo added that he would block payment for any accrued vacation time or other compensation sought by Salzmann until the investigation was complete.
“Should the DA not prosecute, but provide a reconciliation or accounting of any issues with time and attendance, the city will seek full restitution,” said Gallo.