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Florida Man Arrested for Passing as Paramedic

NAPLES, Fla. -- A former Marco Island (Fla.) firefighter-EMT was arrested on a warrant during the weekend after authorities said he lied about passing a state test and then passed himself off as a paramedic.

Brian Matthew Franklin, 24, of Cape Coral, was charged with practicing as an EMT paramedic ambulance driver without a certificate, which is a misdemeanor.

In late September 2007, Franklin, a Marco Island firefighter EMT, called Battalion Chief Jeff Kutzke and told him that he'd passed his state paramedic license exam, Kutzke said in a police statement.

Three weeks later Franklin turned in a license verification document with a license number.

The document was forwarded to Deputy Chief Chris Byrne to begin the process of compensating Franklin for medic pay, reports said.

Franklin was hired by the department in August, 2006, Chief Mike Murphy said.

Murphy said new employees have about a year to become paramedics during their probationary period. However, student paramedics are allowed to perform procedures in the field.

When Byrne tried to validate Franklin's license number, records indicated that Franklin was not, in fact, the holder of the license.

"This individual turned in a document indicating that he'd passed the test," Murphy said. "We audit those documents and found a discrepancy in the number."

Kutzke notified Franklin of the discrepancy, and was told to correct the error.

About a week later, Kutzke received a call from a person identifying himself as Tom Joseph with the Florida Department of Health, who said that due to complications with licensing Franklin was being re-issued a new medic number. He said the number wouldn't be in the department records for up to six weeks, Kutzke said in a statement.

Fire officials decided to investigate the call and follow up e-mail with the department of health. It was not immediately clear what that investigation revealed.

Marco Island police investigators met with Franklin at his home in late December, where he eventually admitted to falsifying his documents, reports said.

In a sworn statement, Franklin said that he lied about passing the test due to pressure from his superior officers. He said he created the fake documents using his computer and a scanner.

"I am very, very sorry for all I've done," Franklin wrote in the statement. "This is not something I would do. In terms to make this right, I have paid back the paramedic money received and intend to resign."

Franklin could not be reached for comment.

Franklin resigned on Dec. 19, 2007, Murphy said. He was making $48,878 per year at the time.

Collier County sheriff's deputies located Franklin on Saturday and arrested him.

"The important part is, you know, the system works when you have people checking," Murphy said. "This is an isolated case, I would tend to believe. Unfortunately it happened, but I don't believe there was a danger to anybody. Not to our citizens."

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