District 12 firefighter says suspension was retaliation

District 12 firefighter says suspension was retaliation

A man who brought allegations of intimidation and theft against a Covington-area fire chief is speaking out about his own suspension.

Tom Williamson says the District 12 Fire Board may have broken several laws.

Williamson said he was stunned to learn Friday that he had been suspended with pay. The move came just weeks after he alleged that his boss, Fire Chief Steven Krentel, had stolen goods, damaged property and was intimidating employees.

"We knew I might get fired, but I did this for my co-workers who I care about very deeply," Williamson said.

His attorney, Roy Burns, called on the parish president to get involved in an investigation into alleged wrongdoing at Fire District 12, saying he believes the board has violated state whistleblower laws.

"We think this is retaliation 101," Burns said. "Tom has a legal obligation to report wrongdoing at Fire District 12."

Krentel is the subject of a separate board investigation. He was the husband of the Nanette Krentel, who was found shot to death after a fire at their home last summer. Steven Krentel was cleared by the sheriff of that murder as multiple investigations continue.

Steve Swanson, the fire board chairman, would not comment on allegations that the board's action was retaliatory. Swanson said they were required to launch the new investigation after receiving a complaint against Williamson.

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