date: Thu, Mar 15, 2018 at 2:30 AM

subject: House Bill 971

Please find the testimony of Brian Vaeth on House Bill 974 below. I am forwarding the copies required, as instructed to by the Appropriations Committee staff and sending this email, as information for you and not as a means to circumvent the rules regarding the proper submission of the testimony. All rules regarding the submission will be complied with. Thank you.
In Re: MD General Assembly, House Bill 971

Testimony of:
Brian Vaeth, Retired Firefighter
Baltimore City Fire Department, Truck Co. #1
Appreciation Award (3) 95, 99, 01
Meritorious Conduct (2) 99, 01
Mayor's Citation (6) 95, 99 (2), 01 (2), 02
Mayor's Proclamation (3) 96, 99, 01
Distinguished Unit Citation (3) 99 (1), 02 (2)
Box 414 Assoc. Firefighter of the Year 2001

Honorable Members of the House Appropriations Committee:

I have attempted to bring to the attention of the General Assembly the very issues related to HB 971 over the past several years without success. My disability prevented me from delivering this testimony in person and therefore, I am respectfully requesting that this correspondence be made part of the record for this proposed legislation.

On August 2, 1996, I suffered a disabling injury while performing my duties, as a firefighter for the City of Baltimore and was ultimately disqualified from continuing to serve in that capacity in 2003. I was caught in what is known as a “flashover” and was thrown down a stairwell, landing on my back. The determination that I was to be medical disqualified from the department was made by doctors for the City of Baltimore and I was ordered to apply for retirement benefits from the Fire & Police Employees Retirement System of Baltimore City by the Deputy Chief of Administration for the Baltimore City Fire Department. Despite being “Cut Off” from employment with the City of Baltimore on December 28, 2002, a hearing for those benefits was conducted 8 months later, which left me without union representation because I was no longer paying dues to them through payroll deductions from Baltimore City Central payroll. Long story short, the hearing examiner ruled that I was not disabled from my duties and I lost everything. Despite the hearing examiner’s ruling, and settled Maryland Law on the matter, the City of Baltimore refused to reinstate me to my position with the Baltimore City Fire Department.

You might ask, how does a firefighter lose his disability benefits after suffering such a severe injury while doing his job? As I have long complained, it is a direct result of the City of Baltimore’s inability to follow the law in these cases. The City Solicitor withholds evidence from the medical files of injured employees, manufactures evidence that they don’t have, and commits perjury in the administrative hearing process, in an all-in effort to unlawfully deny benefits to disabled employees or their beneficiaries. The record in my case is full of conclusory statements made by City doctors that defame my character, for example, labeling me as someone who was narcotic dependent, or that I was misrepresenting the level of pain that I experienced, despite having a post-operative infection that required additional surgeries. My objections to this evidence drew very little concern, or response, from the hearing examiner. There is absolutely nothing in the record that supports the irresponsible assertions made by the City Solicitor, however, they were allowed to be introduced.

The City of Baltimore acted with knowledge that the methods they were using to investigate claims caused them to ignore evidence of compensability and to produce false evidence demonstrating that members of the Fire and Police Employees Retirement System were not entitled to compensation. They also acted in bad faith by ignoring that the methods they used to investigate claims and conduct hearings to decide compensability did not accurately reflect the ethical standards for doing so. As officers of the court, government attorneys are granted an inordinate amount of trust because the goal in justice is to seek the truth, which is the fundamental purpose of the justice system itself. When there is no truth, justice cannot exist. When rulings are based on these instances of fraud, wherein government lawyers resort to unlawful acts, what is left is a version of justice that rewards unethical behavior and it only empowers them to carry on this continuing pattern and practice of prejudicial and discriminatory violations of the law that are evident in my case.

This fraud is further perpetrated on the courts when employees file appeals of the findings of the Fire & Police Employees Retirement System in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. I have filed many complaints related to these allegations and not once has the evidence even been looked at. The fact pattern clearly demonstrates the fraud that takes place however, prosecutors turn a blind eye to it. I have sought to submit my allegations to the grand jury, related to the criminal allegations that I have that include perjury and fraud on the court being perpetrated by Baltimore City officials, but have been refused permission by judges of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. This refusal is a clear misinterpretation of the law by these judges and corrective measures are being sought to clarify it, so citizens may freely exercise their right to access the grand jury once again.
The purpose of accessing the grand jury, to submit the charges of fraud on the court, as I have alleged, is a direct result of the United States Attorney and the States Attorney for Baltimore City’s abuse of discretion in not presenting the matter before that body. It is a federal crime for anyone acting under the “color of law” to willfully deprive or conspire to deprive a person of a right protected by the Constitution or the laws of the United States. “Color of law” simply means the person is using authority given to him or her by a local, state, or federal government agency. (18 U.S.C. § 242). The above information articulates a factual basis that reasonably indicates the existence of federal criminal activity carried out by government officials operating both within and beyond the limits of their lawful authority.

As there are no civil relief provisions for this fraud, a party with knowledge of it occurring can only file criminal charges. I have filed a complaint detailing these allegations, following the numerous complaints I filed with other City agencies that simply gave me the runaround in the past. When finally referred to the Office of the Inspector General for the City of Baltimore, that office has refused to even look at the evidence that I have. Now, the Inspector General says that he was ordered not to investigate any charges against senior officials in City Hall by the Mayor. This is obstruction of justice and further evidence that the corruption I was reporting is widespread and has infected all levels of City government.

My frustration over this very issue has led me down a long path of meeting people who are in positions that are responsible for upholding the notion that a fair and equal justice system exists that fail to take the responsibility seriously. Those people include the United States Attorney General for Maryland, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Maryland State’s Attorney, the Maryland Attorney General, the Office of the State Prosecutor, and various boards and agencies of the City of Baltimore. The reason for these meetings have been to report the misconduct that has been demonstrated in my case and to have those allegations investigated. As no rational basis has ever been offered for why this fraud is being permitted and no one has ever investigated my claims, I stand with no confidence in the system. I am hoping to change that, and it is what brings me to the purpose of this testimony.

This correspondence should in no way be viewed as an attempt to re-litigate the issue of my work-related injury but to provide factual information about the actions of the Office of the Baltimore City Solicitor that may be of assistance in rendering just decisions in matters before you in the future. Because the City of Baltimore has failed to pay the medical bills incurred, as a result of this injury, I am blocked from accessing the services of healthcare professionals. Of particular concern is the fact that I was a firefighter and we have been known to be more susceptible to cancers than other professions due to the toxic atmosphere we work in. It would be nice to be able to be pre-screened and have a fighting chance at surviving by accessing the treatment required.

I believe this legislation is long overdue, for the reasons that so many have provided testimony on, and for the reasons presented in this testimonial. I urge the committee to report on House Bill 971 favorably and expedite it in any manner deemed appropriate by this committee. Thank you for your leadership.

                                                                                                                              I remain, 
                                                                                                                            -Brian Charles Vaeth