, Salem, MA

Local News

January 23, 2014

O'Leary appeals firing to court


In his ruling, Bowman was highly critical of Local 172 for raising more than $300,000 from Salem residents and businesses and then using most of the money to pay for fundraisers, hospitality rooms and bar bills, donating relatively little to charities.

The charity fund was set up more to do “coalition building” and to “burnish the image” of the union, he said.

He also was critical of the union investigation into O’Leary and blasted the report by an accountant hired by the union, who was also the personal friend of a union member.

The report formed the basis for the city’s findings against O’Leary.

No hearing date has been set.

Tom Dalton can be reached at


A timeline of the O'Leary case


  • O'Leary appointed to Salem Fire Department.


  • O'Leary elected to union executive board.


  • Salem Firefighters Local 172 signs contract with All-Pro Productions to raise funds for charities and other causes. O'Leary signs contract on behalf of union.
  • Union opens fundraising savings account in Greater Salem Employees Federal Credit Union. Union Secretary-Treasurer Richard Thomas opens account and is "authorized signer."
  • First fundraising drive raises $69,000 (union's share is $25,000). From 2002-10, union raises about $344,000 from residents and businesses (union's share is $129,000).
  • O'Leary elected union president.


  • O'Leary becomes authorized signer on union charity account.


  • Richard Thomas elected union president.


  • Union launches investigation into fundraising account.


  • Thomas meets with fire Chief David Cody about union fund.
  • O'Leary placed on administrative leave pending hearing.
  • City holds hearing; O'Leary terminated.
  • O'Leary appeals to Civil Service Commission.


  • Civil Service Commission affirms O'Leary firing.


  • O'Leary appeals to Superior Court.

Sources: City of Salem; Massachusetts Civil Service Commission Dec. 19 decision; court filings.

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