By ROCCO LADUCA
UTICA – City officials confirmed Tuesday that the Utica Police Department has investigated a personnel matter involving a member of Utica Fire Department, resulting in disciplinary action against the individual.
“We can confirm that our Professional Standards Unit conducted an internal investigation for the Utica Fire Department involving text messages, and we are directing all further questions to the Mayor’s Office and Corporation Counsel,” Utica Police Lt. Bryan Coromato said.
Calls to Mayor Robert Palmieri and Corporation Counsel Bill Borrill were not immediately answered.
SEXUALIZED TEXT MESSAGES
The investigation centered around text messages allegedly between Interim Fire Chief John Kelly and the 23-year-old son of another member of the Utica Fire Department. The Talk of the Town has viewed the text messages, many of which discuss sexual activities within the Utica Fire Department occurring between 2015 and this year.
Interim Chief Kelly could not immediately be reached for comment, and at this time it remains unclear whether Kelly’s position with the department has changed.
A review of the text messages, starting in October 2015, include some of the following highly-sexualized exchanges allegedly between Interim Chief Kelly and the younger man, who was not identified. In the messages, it appears that Kelly would occasionally ask the young man to join him at the fire station to masturbate while watching pornographic videos, wear his briefs and engage in sexual activities with females.
“Swing by. I gotta a great movie,” Kelly’s alleged text to the young man reads.
“Alright, sounds good,” the man replies. “I’m a(sic) the bar in Oneida right now.”
“Lol. Oh boy,” Kelly allegedly replies.
“Yeh, there’s a ton of girls here too,” the young man texts back.
Kelly allegedly responds, “Nice. Stop on your way home. Bring some girls.”
“I’ll try to bring at least 3,” the young man replies.
In a later text exchange, dated from early February 2016, the young man allegedly texts Kelly asking if he could bring one of his male friends.
“Nice. He’s into porn?” Kelly allegedly asks via text, before then asking if the friend is “cool with” masturbating.
“Hell yeah,” the young man texts back.
In March 2016, the text messages discuss the young man wearing “briefs to sleep in” while they watch movies at the station. According to the texts, it appears that the young man was somehow involved in responding to fire calls.
“I’ll be there around 10,” the young man texts. “Do you want me to bring you any cigars from the casino?”
“Yeah. Grab a few acids! That’ll be great,” Kelly replies in text.
“Alright, I hope we get some good calls too & nice weather,” the young man texts back.
Kelly allegedly responds: “I might have a surprise for us tomorrow night. She likes porn and guys who wear briefs.”
“Oh nice,” the young man replies.
“Let’s hope. Lol,” Kelly allegedly texts.
When Kelly allegedly mentions smoking cigars and sexual activity before going to bed, the young man replies, “I’m not gay John lol”
To which, Kelly allegedly texts back, “Not from me you nut. From the chick.”
“Oh yeah I forgot lmao,” the young man replies.
It is unclear what rank the young man’s father holds within the Fire Department, and it is unclear what prompted these text messages to be brought to the attention of the Mayor’s Office and the Utica Police Department.
The Mayor’s Office did not confirm any of the specific details involved in the investigation, but it did release the following statement Tuesday afternoon:
“The City was made aware of allegations against a member of the Utica Fire Department. Pursuant to the City’s procedures, the Utica Police Department was immediately directed to conduct a full investigation.
“Subsequently, the investigation determined no criminal conduct took place. However, as a result of the investigation, the City administered discipline against one member of the Utica Fire Department.
“The City cannot legally disclose the findings of the investigation or the discipline that was administered as it is a personnel matter that is protected under Section 50-a of the New York State Civil Rights Law.
“It is important the public understands the City of Utica takes all complaints and allegations against City personnel seriously by thorough investigation, discipline and if appropriate, referral to law enforcement.”