Dispatcher pleads not guilty of sick time misuse

BRISTOL — A Southington public safety dispatcher charged with misusing sick time entered a not guilty plea during his arraignment in Bristol Superior Court Monday.

Stephen Chapman, 47, of 45 Park St. in Plainville, was arrested on June 27 and charged with second-degree larceny, a class C felony. He was released on $500 bond. Chapman hired private attorney Aaron Jainchill to represent him. Jainchill entered the not guilty plea on his client’s behalf.

The case was continued until Aug. 1.

Chapman works as a Southington dispatcher and is also a volunteer firefighter in Plainville.

Jainchill said on Monday that he is going to reserve comment about the case until he has seen all of the allegations and heard all the facts.

According to the arrest warrant, on June 3 authorities began a criminal investigation into Chapman’s use of sick time over a five-year period dating back to 2008. The warrant says Chapman knowingly received sick leave compensation while working as a volunteer firefighter for the town of Plainville.

Chapman has been employed by Southington since 2007. The collective bargaining agreement between Southington and public safety dispatchers states that sick leave is “to be used during illness or nonservice connected injury,” the warrant said.

On April 27 another dispatcher approached a supervisor with concerns about how Chapman was using his sick time and mentioned his service as a volunteer firefighter in Plainville, the warrant said. Investigators obtained reports from the Plainville Fire Department that track firefighter call responses and payroll, the warrant said. The reports were cross-referenced with Southington’s police staffing system, which showed Chapman used six sick days and responded to eight Plainville fire incidents, the warrant said. Chapman received sick leave compensation for the six days for a total of $1,118 and was paid $52 for the eight calls he responded to while on sick leave, the warrant said.

Police called to request an interview with Chapman and were contacted by Jainchill, who said he had advised his client not to speak with police, the warrant said.

Southington has placed Chapman on paid administrative leave. (203) 317-2225 Twitter: @LaurenSievertRJ

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