A Cutchogue firefighter is accused of inflating the number of emergency calls to which he and his family members responded, potentially granting them fraudulent monetary benefits.

James P. Burns, 27, of Cutchogue, has been accused of tampering with public records in the first degree and official misconduct for making 96 false entries in the electronic records of the Cutchogue Fire Department, according to the office of Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney.

According to an investigation, Mr. Burns responded to the Cutchogue Fire Department for an emergency call on September 30, 2023. While at the firehouse, the fire fighter allegedly accessed an internal computer system that he was not authorized to use and made 96 changes to the records of 55 prior emergency calls. Mr. Burns allegedly gave himself and three family members credit for attending previous emergency calls they did not actually attend.

These false entries provided Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP) credits to one of Mr. Burn’s relatives, which that family member allegedly did not earn, potentially providing future fraudulent monetary benefits, according to the district attorney’s office.

“These allegations evince a lack of integrity that is not representative of the brave men and women who volunteer to serve as firefighters in towns across Suffolk County,” Mr. Tierney said in a press release. “Our residents deserve honest government at all levels and my office will continue to seek out and prosecute violations of the public trust.”

Investigators of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office’s Public Corruption Squad arrested Mr. Burns on Wednesday. The fire fighter was arraigned on the charges of tampering with public records in the first degree, a class D felony, and official misconduct, a class A misdemeanor, before Southold Town Justice Eileen Powers. Justice Powers released Mr. Burns on his own recognizance. Under New York State law, the offenses with which Mr. Burns is charged are considered non-bail eligible.

When reached by telephone Wednesday afternoon, Cutchogue Fire Department Chief Bill Brewer said “at this point its still ongoing and we don’t have any comment.”

Mr. Burns is due back in court on April 26, 2024, and faces up to two and one-third to seven years in prison if convicted on the top count. Assistant District Attorney Katharine D’Aquila of the Public Corruption Bureau is prosecuting the case. William Goggins, the attorney representing Mr. Burns, declined to The Suffolk Times’ request for comment Wednesday afternoon.

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