Former Firefighter Speaks Out About Sex, Booze, and Corruption Inside Defunct Vol. Fire Station, Says Lives Were at Risk
HERNANDO – For nearly three years RNRF received dozens of tips regarding corruption, inappropriate activity, and misappropriation of funds within the now-defunct Hernando Beach Volunteer Fire Department. Most of the complaints were either unconfirmed or witnesses were just too afraid to go on the record. But that’s all changed now that the “three chiefs” are facing fraud charges and are on administrative leave from their respective departments.
We spoke to Ross Lerohl who volunteered with the department for nearly a year in 2014 and he says it was nothing short of a madhouse. Lerohl tells RNRF that on multiple occasions Freda would come to the fire station “hammered and have sex with random women.” Lerohl remembers one occasion when the entire fire station filled with smoke. After quick search, he discovered a roll of toilet paper burning in the day room and that’s when Freda started spraying him and other firefighters with water.
Lerohl says allegations that Freda spent the department’s slush fund on cigarettes, gas and booze are all true, but every time he would complain, Freda would threaten to fire him. But Lerohl says there were more serious issues that put the lives of Hernando Beach residents at risk and that’s what ultimately led to his resignation.Lerohl claims there wasn’t a certified fire engine driver available on every shift and that many times they had to call a driver from his residence to first travel to the fire station to drive the fire engine. Lerohl says response times were over 15 minutes on many occasions and that it was just too much for him to ignore.
There are also allegations that Freda was having sex with a 17-year-old girl but that has not been confirmed and the Sheriff’s Office says there are no other investigations outside the Economic Crimes Division.
There is speculation that County Commissioner Wayne Dukes covered up the alleged illegal activities but Dukes told RNRF during a brief interview on Friday, “I had no involvement or control over that station, other than to provide organizational advice.”
We asked a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office if they were investigating anyone else who may have been involved in a potential cover up and she provided the following statement, “The ECON Sergeant advised that we won’t be able to respond to any of the other questions, as not to compromise the investigation.”
Some say the timing of their arrests is suspect because of the upcoming midterm election and the ongoing feud between Sheriff Al Neinhuis and Commissioner Dukes, but those sources have refused to go on the record at this time.
One source tells RNRF that Freda called in sick just days before his arrest, claiming that he broke his nose in a car accident, however, the Florida Highway Patrol has no record of an accident involving David Freda. That same source tells RNRF that Freda was actually involved in a physical altercation at ICON’s Gentlemen’s Club in Hudson, but that information has not been confirmed.
We will continue to bring more on this story as it develops.
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