A retired Boston fire chief charged with disability-retirement fraud has won permission from a federal magistrate judge to take a Carnival Cruise this summer while he is awaiting trial, court records show.
James Famolare, a former deputy chief of personnel, petitioned the court last month to allow him to travel out of the country on a cruise from Seattle, through British Columbia, Canada, to Alaska in August.
Famolare, 66, was indicted in October 2009 on six counts of fraud for allegedly faking a career-ending injury to collect a tax-free accidental disability pension. He reported injuring his back in 2006 while moving a box of personnel files at headquarters on the same day he happened to be filling in for his boss and collecting a higher rate of pay. Prosecutors say Famolare had to consult two doctors before finding one who would support his injury claim. Also, a purported witness to his injury recanted.
After the indictment, US Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler ordered Famolare to put up $25,000 bail, surrender his passport, and not to travel out of New England. Last Thursday, Bowler granted permission for Famolare to go on the cruise, provided he surrender his passport when he gets back.
Famolare's lawyer said he has done everything the court has asked so far, and he said the cruise plans -- with his wife and several other family members -- were made and partially paid for before he was indicted.
"Regardless of the outcome of the case, this is fairly routine to fulfill prepaid travel plans," said the lawyer, Thomas Drechsler, who noted that prosecutors did not oppose the request. "You're talking about a man in his 60s with no record."
The seven-day cruise aboard the Carnival Fun Ship "Spirit" is scheduled to depart from Seattle Aug. 17 and make stops in Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska, as well as Victoria, Canada, according to the cruise line's web site. The ship, billed as a "floating resort," features the Louis XIV Casino, as well as a spa, pools, and an upscale steakhouse.
Famolare was a 39-year veteran of the Boston Fire Department responsible for overseeing accidental disability retirement applications. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 on each count of mail fraud.
Donovan Slack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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