Ex-fire­fighter jailed for theft on job

Six-month sen­tence for ‘very se­ri­ous breach of so­ci­ety’s trust’ after cash, jew­elry stolen from dead woman’s apart­ment

Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS - KATIE MAY katie.may@freep­ress.mb.ca Twit­ter: @thatkatiemay

FOR­MER fire­fighter has been sen­tenced to six months in jail for steal­ing from a dead woman’s apart­ment while he was on duty.

Darren Fedyck, 48, was sen­tenced Wed­nes­day by pro­vin­cial court Judge Kael McKen­zie, who said it was nec­es­sary to in­car­cer­ate Fedyck to “send a strong mes­sage” after he abused his po­si­tion of trust within the fire depart­ment.

“Fire­fight­ers, along with a num­ber of other first-re­spon­ders and emer­gency ser­vices per­son­nel, are in a unique po­si­tion in our so­ci­ety,” McKen­zie said. “They are called upon for emer­gency sit­u­a­tions and the peo­ple they are deal­ing with are often vul­ner­a­ble. Emer­gency ser­vices work­ers are al­lowed en­try into peo­ple’s homes, at times with­out per­mis­sion. In this case, the Win­nipeg Fire Para­medic Ser­vice were not only en­trusted with en­try to the vic­tim’s apart­ment but were al­lowed to be in the apart­ment un­su­per­vised.

A“This was a sad sit­u­a­tion. An el­derly woman passed away alone in her apart­ment. Mr. Fedyck’s con­duct in steal­ing from this de­ceased woman is ex­tremely se­ri­ous.”

The 76-year-old woman, who died in her Hen­der­son High­way apart­ment nearly two years ago, was the “most vul­ner­a­ble of vic­tims,” the judge said, and Fedyck and his crew were called there to help.

“He did the very thing we en­trust fire­fight­ers not to do when they are in some­one’s home: (suc­cumb to) the temp­ta­tion to steal from peo­ple who are in need of their as­sis­tance as emer­gency ser­vices per­son­nel. A strong mes­sage of de­nun­ci­a­tion has to be sent to Mr. Fedyck and to other emer­gency ser­vices per­son­nel. So­ci­ety trusts you to care for us when we are at our most vul­ner­a­ble. If you steal from some­one, the con­se­quences have to re­flect the very se­ri­ous breach of so­ci­ety’s trust,” McKen­zie said.

Crown at­tor­ney Kevin Clayton had asked for a nine-month jail sen­tence, while defence lawyer James Wood asked for a sus­pended sen­tence with a pe­riod of pro­ba­tion or house ar­rest, which would have al­lowed Fedyck to stay out of jail.

Wood of­fered no com­ment on the sen­tence on be­half of his client, but just prior to hear­ing the judge’s de­ci­sion, Fedyck’s mother told the Free Press she feels me­dia cov­er­age has been un­fair.

“He re­ally hasn’t told his side. He’s a fa­ther and a per­son that works re­ally, re­ally hard,” she said, ac­knowl­edg­ing her son “made a mis­take back with Wawanesa,” re­fer­ring to his pre­vi­ous fraud­u­lent in­sur­ance claim. He pleaded guilty to fraud un­der $5,000 in 2010 after “pad­ding” a nearly $30,000 in­sur­ance claim. He falsely claimed two wed­ding rings worth $2,050 had been stolen dur­ing a break-in at his home. He was granted a con­di­tional dis­charge.

Fedyck pleaded not guilty in this case and didn’t tes­tify dur­ing his trial in the spring. He was con­victed in a case based en­tirely on cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence, since no one ac­tu­ally saw him steal. Four of his for­mer col­leagues at the Win­nipeg Fire and Para­medic Ser­vice tes­ti­fied against him.

On Oct. 2, 2015, Fedyck and co-work­ers from Fire Sta­tion 16 were called to check on the well-be­ing of a 76-year-old woman in a Hen­der­son High­way apart­ment block. They dis­cov­ered her body in­side the one-bed­room suite.

As they left the apart­ment, the crew re­al­ized they needed to re­trieve the woman’s Man­i­toba health-card num­ber. Fedyck went back to get it and mem­bers of his crew got sus­pi­cious over the amount of time he was gone. A co-worker found him in the apart­ment with a purse or wal­let in his hand.

Other fire­fight­ers later found Fedyck’s jacket in­side the truck and searched it, find­ing sev­eral hun­dred dol­lars in cash and two women’s neck­laces. Al­though the woman used only cash, there were no bills in her wal­let when it was re­turned to her fam­ily.

The other fire­fight­ers took pho­tos of the cash and jew­elry they found in Fedyck’s jacket and con­fronted him about it later that day. He de­nied steal­ing, say­ing he with­drew the cash from a bank ma­chine and brought it to work to pay a co-worker who had agreed to do some work on his ve­hi­cle.

Fedyck told his co-work­ers the jew­elry be­longed to him and that he planned to sell one neck­lace. Be­cause they hadn’t seen him steal, the fire crew de­cided not to re­port the al­le­ga­tions. They didn’t in­tend to go to po­lice, court heard, un­til one of Fedyck’s su­pe­ri­ors de­cided to call the au­thor­i­ties about six weeks later. They ini­tially told po­lice they saw the stolen items fall out of Fedyck’s jacket. But shortly be­fore the trial be­gan in April, they came clean about their search of his jacket.

Fedyck was fired from the Win­nipeg Fire Para­medic Ser­vice in April 2016, after he had been placed on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave in De­cem­ber 2015 dur­ing the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion. He was sus­pended with­out pay later that De­cem­ber.

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