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Former Columbus Fire Deputy Chief Pleads Guilty In Payroll Scheme

Columbus Division of Fire

A former Columbus fire deputy chief pleaded guilty on Wednesday to participating in a payroll scheme that paid him and others in the fire department $442,983.36.

Jack Reall pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty, which is a second degree misdemeanor. As part of the plea, he must pay the City of Columbus $57,710.44 in restitution.

An affidavit says Reall performed work as a private contractor during hours he reported working for the fire department, between January 2016 and December 2018.  

He’s on non-reporting probation for a year, but can get off once he pays the restitution in full.

In a statement, Reall called the situation a “political hit” on his character because of his role of as president of the Columbus Fire Fighters Union Local 67. 

"As Union President, I spent 14 years working to protect the careers and reputations of 1,600 men and women," Reall said. "A tremendously rewarding experience that frequently put me at odds with City Hall. Although I cannot prove it nor do I need to after today, I do feel as though this is a political hit on my character."

Reall retired Monday in the wake of the investigation into his theft and financial mismanagement.

He served as a Columbus firefighter for nearly 30 years. He started working for the Columbus Fire Department in December 1989. As deputy chief, he earned $157,086.91 per year.

The Columbus City Attorney’s Office and Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office agreed not to pursue any further criminal charges regarding the matter in exchange for the plea deal.

Columbus Fire Fighters Union Local 67 said in a statement that “this matter should be handled by Jack Reall and the prosecuting attorney’s office.” The statement says the issue should not take away “from the amazing service that Columbus Fire Fighters of Local 67 provide to their community every day.”