Fort Lauderdale Firefighter Arrested For Extortion: Cops

Steve Loleski remains in jail on $51,000 bond

By Karen Franklin and Willard Shepard
|  Friday, Aug 3, 2012  |  Updated 10:07 AM EDT
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A Fort Lauderdale firefighter was arrested after police said he threatened another member of the fire department to disclose information about a criminal case.

A Fort Lauderdale firefighter was arrested after police said he threatened another member of the fire department to disclose information about a criminal case.

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A Fort Lauderdale firefighter was arrested after police said he threatened another member of the fire department to disclose information about a criminal case.

Steve Loleski, 35, was arrested by Fort Lauderdale Police Wednesday and faces one count of extortion/threats and one count of criminal attempt to solicit or conspire, according to online records. He remains in the main jail on $51,000 bond.

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Investigators said Loleski obtained a recorded, private conversation and attempted to use the tape as a threat against another member of the department, who is also the bargaining union president. Loleski threatened to jeopardize an investigation if the victim did not give him information about another active criminal investigation, police said.

Loleski has been employed with Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue since February 2000. He is currently on vacation leave and earned an annual salary of $72,321.60, according to Matt Little of Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue.

Multiple agencies are investigating Fort Lauderdale firemen and at least one company that provides fire equipment and training, a Fort Lauderdale firefighter paramedic told NBC 6 South Florida.

"A lot of firefighters are under a lot of pressure right now. There’s a lot of investigations going on within the city right now," said the firefighter, who did not want to be identified.

Federal court documents indicate that at least one company, whose website indicates it provides fire training and products, has been issued a subpoena to appear and provide information on its business going back four years to a grand jury. The request for information is tied to an examination of the fire department’s business practices, according to the Fort Lauderdale firefighter.

The FBI has been out visiting many firehouses to talk with people, the firefighter said.

The investigation by the Broward County public corruption unit is ongoing.

Loleski’s attorney, Brian Silber, said he couldn't comment because he hadn't had a chance to thoroughly examine the charges against his client, but said he will attempt to get him a bond hearing quickly.

Federal authorities have a strict policy against commenting on any matter associated with a grand jury, and both the Fort Lauderdale police and fire departments released statements saying they couldn’t say more because the probes are underway.

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