Chief Seeks To Terminate Firefighter

Thomas MacMillan Photo(Updated with chief’s comment) The city’s fire chief Thursday afternoon said he will move to terminate city firefighter Aaron Brantley, after a judge found Brantley guilty of attempting to bribe a fire marshal.

Brantley has been on paid leave since Jan. 14, 2013, when he was arrested on two felony charges of attempted bribery. He was accused of trying to pay off two fire department officials, Deputy Fire Marshal Faustino Lopez and Fire Inspector Corey Bellamy, to help him win a discrimination complaint.

Judge Brian Fischer Thursday found Brantley guilty of trying to bribe Lopez and not guilty of trying to bribe Bellamy. Brantley will be sentenced at a later date. The verdict capped a three-day trial in state Superior Court on Church Street, in which Bellamy recanted an earlier accusation against the defendant. Click here and here for coverage by the Register‘s Rich Scinto.

Upon learning of the verdict Thursday, Fire Chief Allyn Wright said he will recommend to the fire commission that it fire Brantley because he was convicted of a class C felony. He said the fire commission will meet “very shortly” to take up the matter.

In the meantime, Brantley will be placed on unpaid leave, according to mayoral spokesman Laurence Grotheer.

“It’s a sad day for the New Haven Fire Department,” Wright said.

“This is not a good day for public servants,” agreed Assistant State’s Attorney Stacey Miranda, who prosecuted the case. “Nobody wins here.”

Brantley’s lawyer, Hugh Keefe, said his client decided to waive the right to a jury trial, and instead hear the case before a judge, because “we were under the impression that this case was so weak that, if there was ever a case that the judge would acquit, it was this one.”

That proved to be a risky bet.

The verdict “yet again demonstrates why lawyers should not waive their right to a jury trial,” Keefe said. “If there was ever a case that warranted an across-the-board verdict of not guilty, it was this one.”

Keefe said that “in all probability” his client will appeal.

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posted by: JustAnotherTaxPayer on May 8, 2014  4:55pm

I feel bad for every New Haven Firefighter past, present, and future, as the cloud that hangs over that department, has dumped another downpour on morale there. The majority, a very high percentage, so their job, and more. Helping the public, without notice, their neighbors, their coworkers, year in and year out. The very highest percentage don’t behave like this, not would they ever be near garbage like this. I thank them all for that moment when they will have to risk their lives, those moments they have survived, without telling war stories, or looking for news stories, and do a fantastic job, no a job that manifests their character, strength, belief in others, belief in a God, and a willingness to say I am a New Haven Firefighter.

posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on May 8, 2014  5:17pm

“Bellamy recanted an earlier accusation against the defendant.” How does someone just simply recant such a serious allegation? Very strange happenings.

posted by: Marion on May 9, 2014  12:02pm

Not enough is being debated or even said about these matters on behalf of taxpayers and their interests. This man was suspended WITH PAY back in Jan. of 2013.  That means taxpayers paid him to sit home and do no work for a year and 4 months. The city could have suspended him without pay and then terminated him over a year ago.  It doesn’t need to wait until a judge or jury finds him guilty of a crime beyond the proverbial “reasonable doubt. The criminal part has nothing to do with whether he engaged in conduct that deserves termination from his employment. A quick investigation and interview of the witnesses was all the city needed to find just cause for a firing. For the city to sit back in these cases, sometimes for years, while a criminal case drags its way through the system, is to abuse the taxpayers.  The city can’t afford to keep doing this.

posted by: Eng10Trk3 on May 10, 2014  10:56am

To brother Brantley I hope truth finds its way to you. It is disguisting that after risking life and limb and sustaining an injury a fellow brother finds himself fighting for his career and moreso his freedom all because of one’s motives. To answer the tones not knowing what one will encounter without hesitation and to unfortunately become injured to then be treated as if you’re nothing, expendable or just another number…. to me, that is the true crime. Keep your head up brother and know you still have support. To the rest of the brothers always remember when the tones hit none of us are immune to the potential dangers that we may encounter, and in saying this I encourage all of you to never forget the brotherhood a firefighter joins, lives, and risks dying for!

posted by: Marion on May 10, 2014  12:35pm

Falsely accusing fellow firefighters of race discrimination, and then trying to bribe black officers to perjure themselves to support you is not a part of the “brotherhood” of firefighters. It is destructive to it.  Any who support Brantley for this should rethink their morals. The NHFD is becoming a joke around fire circles, thanks to the likes of such people.

posted by: Eng10Trk3 on May 13, 2014  10:19am

@Swampfoxll I can almost understand your point but unless you’ve experienced the discrimination, or the disrespect then you cannot speak about it. And as far as the NHFD becoming a joke in certain circles, I have worked with, and seen many departments “work” and let me say from experience the NHFD although tainted with political nonsense is by far the best department. Thats why those in these circles have applied and tried to become apart of the NHFD.