FDNY Deputy Fire Commissioner Douglas White Dismisses Claims of Widespread Cheating on Recruit Exams

NY Daily News - August 04, 2011

by John Marzulli DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

An FDNY official yesterday dismissed claims of widespread cheating on the last firefighters' written entrance exam.

Deputy Commissioner of Administration Douglas White was summoned to Brooklyn Federal Court to explain what he did in response to a subordinate's memo sent to him in 2007 containing a slew of complaints about the exam. The memo included reports of cheating in all five boroughs.

Testifying at a hearing in which the Vulcan Society of black firefighters is seeking a special monitor to oversee FDNY recruitment, White initially said he did not recognize the memo.

"That's not saying I didn't get it," he noted.

The deputy commissioner also had difficulty recalling what job he held immediately before joining the FDNY in 2002.

"I've had a lot of jobs," he told Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis.

After reading the two-page memo carefully, White said he remembered the cheating allegations and referred the matter to Thomas Patitucci, then-assistant commissioner in charge of testing for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

"Obviously, it was very upsetting," White said. "He (Patitucci) said there's always plenty of complaints about cheating and he said he'd look into it."

"A few days later (Patitucci) called and said there's nothing to it," White said. "That's the way I remember it."

White said he assumed he discussed the matter with then-Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta as well.

An FDNY spokesman speaking on Scoppetta's behalf told the Daily News that the commissioner has no recollection of White bringing up the issue of cheating. Patitucci has retired from DCAS and could not be reached for comment.

White said if there was any substance to the cheating claims, DCAS would have been required to notify the city's Department of Investigation.

The memo's author, FDNY assistant commissioner Michele Maglione, testified Tuesday that she never heard any followup about the complaints, prompting the judge to summon her boss for answers.