Investigators accuse 3 Liberty Twp. firefighters of using and trading drugs on the job

27 Investigates

The investigation claims one of them almost hit a pedestrian while driving an ambulance under the influence

LIBERTY TWP., Ohio (WKBN) – An internal investigation claims some Liberty Township firefighters were using, buying and selling prescription drugs while on the job.

Investigators say Lt. Justin Graham and Lt. Josh Cleland were using multiple drugs that weren’t prescribed to them while on the job, and buying and selling them at the station. The drugs can cause dizziness and impair thinking and reactions.

Graham is accused of almost hitting a pedestrian while driving an ambulance under the influence in February.

Capt. Chris Olson denied knowing about firefighters passing pills to each other at the station but investigators said text conversations show not only was he aware, but he participated.

The investigation claims Graham and Olson lied when asked if they knew anything about another firefighter’s drug use. However, investigators said they found text conversations between that firefighter, Olson and Graham that insinuated using and buying drugs.

Investigators said Olson knew that firefighter overdosed, but “failed to take action to protect the public” and never reported it. The firefighter returned to work less than 10 hours later.

The investigation claims Olson allowed that firefighter to drive less than two hours after being revived from a drug overdose. The firefighter told Olson he didn’t feel well and he got sick beforehand, the investigation claims. The firefighter drove about two miles before stopping because he didn’t feel he could drive safely.

Investigators are accusing Olson and Graham of trying to cover all of it up as well.

According to the township’s investigation, Olson also abused his position of power by using a fire department shirt to sneak into St. Elizabeth Medical Center when he was not on duty. The hospital had visitor restrictions in place due to COVID-19. Investigators say Graham encouraged him to do it and helped him sneak in.

Additionally, Graham is accused of urinating in a fire captain’s teapot.

On Wednesday, Liberty Township trustees accepted the resignations of Cleland, effective after Thursday, and Graham, effective after Friday.

Trustees also agreed to accept Olson’s retirement starting Thursday if Olson signs a separation agreement.

Olson has been with the department for 20 years.

Graham has worked there for 12 years and at one point, was the department’s firefighter union president.

Cleland has worked for the Liberty Fire Department for seven years.

They are not facing criminal charges. This comes from the township’s internal investigation to determine disciplinary action.

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