Several of Ronald Pieri's colleagues from the Highwood Fire Department testified Tuesday afternoon about his work absences, early departures and time card disparities during the second day of the former deputy fire chief's criminal trial in Lake County Circuit Court. Pieri is being tried on felony charges of official misconduct, theft and false entry in a case brought by the Lake County State's Attorney's office in 2011. Prosecutors have accused Pieri of falsifying time records and claiming compensation for hours not worked, costing Highwood taxpayers about $58,676.
Among those taking the stand was Jason Noga, a Highwood firefighter and paramedic who was assigned to the "red shift" that Pieri supervised around 2006 and again around 2010.
Noga, a prosecution witness, said he would cover for Pieri when he was absent or left his shift early, and was responsible for putting the information into the department's computerized scheduling system. Noga recalled that around 2008 or 2009, he was asked by Battalion Chief David Mohry to review the math in "a big stack" of Pieri's time cards. He noted that in many instances, according to testimony, the time off had not been deducted from the bank of available time. On Tuesday morning, defense lawyer Julie Trevarthen cross-examined Pieri's one-time boss, former Highwood Fire Chief Thomas Lovejoy about a favorable evaluation in mid-2007 that described Pieri's performance as "outstanding" and noted that he "far exceeds the requirements for the job."