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Firefighter suspended after pleading to reckless driving

By Staff | Dec 1, 2011

A Cape Coral firefighter arrested for DUI in 2010 pleaded guilty earlier this year to a lesser charge and was to be temporary suspended without pay.

James Finn Stathopoulos, 26, of Fort Myers, was adjudicated guilty in August after pleading no contest to one count of willful and wanton reckless driving.

He was sentenced to one year’s probation, a six-month restriction on his driver’s license and 50 hours of community service. Stathopoulos also was ordered to pay a $500 fine and $303 in court costs, according to officials.

He had to attend and successfully complete DUI school, as well as had to attend a Victim Impact Panel or Lee Memorial Trauma Course.

Stathopoulos was hired by the city in December 2009. His annual salary was about $46,875 in 2010, and he earned about $51,048, city records state.

Following the DUI arrest, Stathopoulos was placed on administrative duty pending the completion of an internal investigation by the department.

Earlier this month, Fire Chief Bill Van Helden ordered in a final notice of disciplinary action the imposition of a 12-hour suspension without pay.

“In deciding an appropriate level of discipline in this case, I have taken into account the fact that you have been a good employee for the past three years,” Van Helden wrote. “However, I cannot discount the seriousness of this offense.”

“I have a duty to take action that I believe is in the best interests of the employees and residents of the city of Cape Coral,” he continued.