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Posted March 1, 2013 EST

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Ex-firefighter Reported False Emergencies In Prank Calls
United States (Pennsylvania) - A former volunteer firefighter from Nanticoke was charged Wednesday with making prank phone calls that sent his one-time colleagues scrambling to find nonexistent people in distress, according to state police. Lee Anthony Beatty, 50, is charged with reporting false alarms to a public safety agency and reckless endangerment, according to police.

Beatty is accused of calling three times to report false emergencies -- in one case sending out boats and rescuers who searched the Susquehanna River for about 2 1/2 hours before realizing no one was in danger. In each case, his former department -- Plymouth Township Fire-Rescue Tilbury Station in West Nanticoke -- was summoned to the calls.

Fire Chief John Rinehimer said he was "not even going to go there" to speculate about why Beatty allegedly made the prank calls.

"I'm just glad it's over and done with and he's gone," Rinehimer said.

According to state police, Beatty first called the department Dec. 31 at 8:46 p.m. to report a four- or five-car pileup had taken place between a diner and the Garden Drive-in.

Then on Jan. 11 at 7:31 p.m., Beatty again called to report a vehicle had gone off the road, possibly landing in the Susquehanna River. And on Feb. 7, Beatty phoned in a report of a truck fire in front of a diner, according to state police.

In each case, the calls came from a pay phone at a Sunoco gas station at state Routes 29 and 11 in Plymouth Township, police said.

Andy Novak, deputy chief of the department, said firefighters wasted about 30 to 40 minutes each on the vehicle crash calls, but the report of a car in the river took about 2 1/2 hours because officials had to summon water-rescue equipment, including three boats, and search for a possibly submerged vehicle.

"It does get frustrating," Novak said. "We're not there for somebody's amusement."

While firefighters weren't put in a position to have to miss a real emergency as a result of the pranks, they were put at potential risk by having to navigate icy roads, Novak said.

"There's no use sending us out on the road when we don't have to be," he said.

State police said they were alerted to the series of false reports Feb. 8, and investigators collected video surveillance footage from the area. Beatty's former colleagues recognized him and his vehicle, police said.

Court officials say a summons to appear in court was mailed to Beatty on Wednesday.

Written by The Citizens Voice

Courtesy of YellowBrix - YellowBrix


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