Source: Acting Utica Fire Chief Preyed on Prospective Recruit
Utica's interim Fire Chief John Kelly took advantage of a prospective recruit and brought him into a world of porn and sex, often times while on duty and inside the Utica fire station, a source who asked not to be identified told WIBX.
"This kid wanted to be a fireman from the time he was three years old and John took advantage of that," he said in a meeting with WIBX staff members on Wednesday.
According to the source, the young man is the son of another Utica fire fighter and he's always been around the fire department. He claims that at the age of 23, the possible recruit began visiting with Kelly and riding along on fire runs, in hopes of becoming a Utica firefighter. The young man was in the process of working to become a Utica firefighter and that he believed Kelly was in his corner and helping him reach his goal, the source claims he was told by the prospective recruit. The young man took the Civil Service exam, was a certified NYS EMT and passed the CPAT (candidate physical ability test) in January, according to the source. He was already volunteering for the department, handling some web and social media duties.
According to the source along with cell phone records and a text export from the young man's phone provided to WIBX, Kelly would repeatedly encourage the then 23-year-old to stop by the fire station to watch pornographic movies and then "whack off" with him inside a private area of the fire station where four single beds and living quarters are placed for the four deputy fire chiefs who sleep there when on duty. One deputy fire chief is on duty per shift, according to the source.
The source claims cell phone records show the alleged "courting" of the prospective recruit went on while Kelly was a deputy chief in 2015, through July of 2017 when Mayor Rob Palmieri named him interim fire chief, and then as fire chief through the time that the incident was reported to city officials in March of 2018.
The source claims the young man told him sometimes he would be alone with Kelly and other times others would be in the room as porn was being played, along with "sex games" such as something called "sword fighting." Kelly also revealed to the young man of the identity of another fire fighter on the force who played the "sword game" with him previously, according to the source.
During one text exchange, Kelly reminded the prospective recruit that his sleeping bag was still there and they would be able to sleep late. The source claims cell phone records show the alleged "courting" of the prospective recruit went on while Kelly was a deputy chief in 2015, through July of 2017 when Mayor Rob Palmieri named him interim fire chief, and then as fire chief through the time that the incident was reported to city officials in March of 2018.
One text message provided by the source showed Kelly giving the prospective recruit a private address and advising him to come in through the garage of a private residence. Texts allegedly from Kelly also asked the young man to wear briefs, a particular style of underwear, on several different occasions. In one text, Kelly offered to supply the prospective recruit with a new pair of briefs underwear that he had purchased. According to the source, the young man claims when he entered the basement at about 2:30 in the afternoon in November, Kelly was there with his uniform shirt unbuttoned. The source told WIBX that the two then watched a pornographic movie together despite the fact that Kelly
The source claims the young man told him sometimes he would be alone with Kelly and other times others would be in the room as porn was being played, along with "sex games" such as something called sword fighting.
was on duty at that time, something the source claims is provable through attendance records. The text messages during the three year period appear to show a history of Kelly repeatedly inviting the young prospective recruit over to the fire station at times when he was alone. In some cases, the text messages appear to imply an intent to guilt the young man into visiting, because he was spending time with friends or a girlfriend. The texts also appear to imply that when Kelly was on Fire Chief duty, the invitations weren't made; however, they repeatedly occurred when he would fill in as Deputy Chief and would be staying overnight at the station, the source said. The source also claims that the invites didn't come while Kelly was acting as chief because too many people were around during the day. Some texts actually warn the prospective recruit to 'hide it' as he walked into the firehouse. The source claims the prospective recruit told him that someone else was at the station and 'hide it' was referring to porn. Other texts discussed the recruit leaving 15 minutes before other Deputy Chiefs arrived. In another text, Kelly appeared to try to get the young recruit to bring his girlfriend to the station for a night of antics, which the recruit refused to do in the texts. In other cases he asked the young man to bring girls and "blowers" to the fire house.
On Monday, Mayor Palmieri's office issued a statement that confirmed an investigation into the matter had occurred and Utica Police determined that there was no criminal wrong doing. Utica Police Chief Mark Williams confirmed that with WIBX on Tuesday. Palmieri's statement said that one Utica fire fighter had been disciplined as a result of the investigation.
Utica Fire Chief Russell Brooks, who is on leave by order of Mayor Palmieri said he had strict rules when it came to porn and other materials. "During my time as chief I issued many numerous directives prohibiting any form of pornography in the fire houses, including films, magazines and internet activity, Those found to be in violation were held accountable," he said. It's not clear what punishment was imposed by Brooks in those cases. Brooks also told WIBX on Thursday that in his opinion, Kelly's conduct resulted in a direct violation of the fire department's Code of Conduct. He also criticized Mayor Palmieri's treatment of the father and son after the incident was reported in March.
Utica Councilman Bill Phillips appeared on WIBX's Keeler Show on Thursday and said if the allegations are true, Kelly should resign. He also stated that he feels this incident and others should lead to the appointment of a Public Safety Commissioner. Currently Mayor Palmieri serves as the city's Public Safety Commissioner.
WIBX reached out to interim Fire Chief Kelly on Wednesday and his secretary referred all inquiries to Mayor Palmieri's office. The Keeler in the Morning program is also awaiting a time to speak with Mayor Palmieri.
Read some of the text strings below (a PDF provided to WIBX):
Disclaimer: The files below were provided to WIBX by a source who claims the messages were exported in their entirety, from the young man's cell phone and contain all conversations between the young man and acting chief Kelly from 2015 - 2018.