CLEVELAND -- City auditors may have pulled the alarm on payroll abuses about the Cleveland firefighters, but Channel 3 News found that the department's top brass are among those who collected the biggest overtime pay.
The city paid firefighters more than $6.5 million in overtime last year. The majority of the top earners -- those who got more than $15,000 in overtime -- were assistant chiefs, battalion chiefs, captains and lieutenants.
Channel 3 News looked into overtime citywide after an audit found instances of firefighters working a handful of hours a year and getting full salary and getting undeserved overtime.
While the audit looked at firefighters, Channel 3 found that assistant fire chiefs are among those who collected the biggest overtime pay.
That was the case in 2008, when the Investigator Tom Meyer found some assistant chiefs raked in up to $34,000 in extra pay. Records from the past two years show that's still the case.
One assistant chief boosted his pay by assigning himself $27,000 in overtime.
Overtime was paid out to employees all over the city last year but records show that most of the top 100 overtime earners work in either the police or fire department -- 57 are police officers, 25 are firefighters.
Seven of the top 10 are patrol officers working traffic duty.
Former police union chief Steve Loomis says all overtime is justified.
"That's what happens when you go to minimum staffing levels and you need to provide the services," Loomis said.
The extra pay hiked up total wages to more than $100,000 in many cases, with some workers earning as much in overtime as they earn for their yearly wages.