Courts & Crime

Florida fire department probes itself for sexual harassment

MANATEE — Allegations of misuse of funds, pornographic material sent via e-mail and sexual harassment have spurred an internal investigation at Southern Manatee Fire District.

Southern Manatee battalion chief Pete Donchenko recently e-mailed two letters to all five Southern Manatee Fire District commissioners, claiming that, among other concerns, former Fire Chief Tom Hennessy was inappropriately awarded a $1.6 million retirement payout and that current Chief Foster Gover sent pornographic material via e-mail to a department employee.

Donchenko’s letters also contend that Gover had engaged in sexual harassment, said Robert Kulchar, chairman of the board of commissioners. “The letters didn’t go into specifics,” Kulchar said. “The sexual harassment could be tied to the pornographic e-mail.”

After receiving the letters, the commissioners called an emergency meeting, at which time the district’s attorney recommended conducting an internal investigation led by an outside agency.

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