Embattled Nahant firefighter storms out of hearing

NAHANT – An embattled firefighter and his attorney left a Civil Service termination hearing before it was completed, according to one attorney who attended the closed-door hearing.A termination hearing was scheduled for Friday morning for firefighter Kevin Howard, who is accused of embezzling union funds.Howard was president of Local 2718 until he was appointed acting chief March 1, 2010 and continued in that capacity until April 29, 2010, when he went on sick leave after allegations against him were made public. He was placed on unpaid leave on Aug. 20.Attorney Richard B. Reiling, who is representing Howard, and the firefighter apparently left the hearing when they realized the hearing officer who they expected to hear the case was not there.”They (Howard and Reiling) stormed out during the hearing,” attorney Neil Rossman, who was representing three firefighters who were called to testify, said. “They refused to participate and protested the legality of hearing.”Reiling said the hearing initially got under way on Oct. 26 with Michael Marks, a Lynn attorney, serving as the hearing officer.”The town set the hearing in front of a new hearing officer,” he said Friday. “The hearing had already commenced in October and this is a violation of Mr. Howard’s rights. We have filed an appeal with the Civil Service Commission and it is up to them to decide whether it was appropriate for the town to set the hearing with a new hearing officer. It’s like changing a judge in the middle of a case.”Reiling said he is unable to comment on the hearing itself.Nahant Town Administrator Mark Cullinan said the hearing was concluded on Friday, but he declined to comment further.Fire Chief Edward Hyde, who was outside the hearing room in Town Hall, also declined to comment on the proceedings.Howard is also facing criminal charges in connection with the alleged embezzlement. He was arraigned in Lynn District Court last fall on charges of larceny over $250. Howard, who pleaded innocent, was released on personal recognizance by Judge Ellen Flatley. The charges against Howard in Lynn District Court stem from a request for a criminal complaint the union filed against him in Lynn District Court last August. The complaint alleges Howard made numerous purchases for his personal use at Home Depot, Shaw’s and Walmart using union accounts. It also alleged that during various ATM transactions he made approximately $7,600 in cash withdrawals from union accounts.

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