Investigation finds 8 Gilbert firefighters double-dipped on taxpayers' dime

Multiple Gilbert firefighters double-dipped on the taxpayer dime by misusing sick and leave time to work second jobs at another fire department, according to an internal investigation obtained by the ABC15 Investigators.

The investigation concluded that a total of eight firefighters “inappropriately used sick leave to facilitate secondary employment at the Forest Lakes Fire Department, contrary to Town of Gilbert or Departmental rules or policies.”

The firefighters used more than a thousand hours of Gilbert sick and/or leave time, allowing them to bring in thousands of dollars in extra pay from Forest Lakes Fire, a small department located about 40 miles east of Payson.

The eight Gilbert firefighters named in the investigation:

- Captain Gary Hildebrandt
- Engineer Josh Reynolds
- Firefighter Benny Ruiz
- Firefighter Danny Skaggs
- Firefighter Ryan McHugh
- Captain Corey Gerard
- Captain Aaron Barton

In March, the ABC15 Investigators first reported the Gilbert internal investigation after learning a battalion chief named David Rodriquez had been placed on administrative leave.  

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Rodriquez is also the chief for Forest Lakes.

Sources told ABC15 that the battalion chief, David Rodriquez, was double dipping using the same method and also recruiting other firefighters to do the same.

Rodriquez resigned from his Gilbert position during the course of the investigation.

A Gilbert spokesperson said the eight firefighters would have their pay docked for several weeks and will have to give back any sick or leave time that was misused.

The firefighters have 10 days to appeal the decision. 

Officials told ABC15 they would not comment further until appeals process was finished.  

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at dbiscobing@abc15.com

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