Fire Chief John Rose resigned last week, but is on paid leave, according to the settlement agreement he reached with the town of Oak Bluffs. He’ll be paid his weekly salary until his retirement is effective April 30.
The town has also agreed to pay $65,882.70 in a lump sum to Rose, according to the separation agreement with the town. That amounts to half a year’s pay, because Rose was earning $131,736 at the time of his resignation.
The Times received a copy of the settlement through a public records request.
In addition to the lump sum payment, Rose will also be entitled to his full retirement benefits, and may elect to continue his current health care coverage with the town’s group plan for a period of 18 months beginning on May 1, 2020.
Rose also agrees to “cooperate with the town in any matter arising during the period of his employment with the town, and he will be compensated at the rate of $63.09 per hour, plus any reasonable expenses related to his cooperation.”
The agreement also stipulates that neither the town nor Rose admit to any wrongdoing.
In his resignation letter to town administrator Robert Whritenour, Rose thanked his staff and volunteers. “I would like to thank all of my staff, as well as all of the incredibly dedicated volunteer firemen, EMTs, Police Officers, and other public safety officials that I have worked with during my 30-plus years with the Oak Bluffs Fire Department and EMS department,” Rose wrote. “I am sure that the department is in capable and professional hands as I depart. Thank you all for the privilege of working with you.”
Rose resigned from the department on Friday, Jan. 31, with the town issuing a statement.
“Chief John Rose and the Oak Bluffs Board of Selectmen have mutually agreed to part ways so that the Fire Department and EMS Services can begin their next chapter,” the town wrote in a statement. “Chief Rose has submitted his resignation and retirement effective April 30, 2020. The Town will start the process of finding a replacement in the interim. The chief has also agreed to assist in any transition, if requested.”
Rose’s departure came after a dramatic meeting of the board of selectmen where the board released a statement about the chief, disclosed he had been suspended previously for 21 days, acknowledged an ongoing FBI investigation, and released executive session minutes that showed a divide among board members about Rose and his ability to lead the fire department.
As the new year began, the town confirmed it had settled a $97,500 lawsuit with Cynthia Hatt, a former fire department employee who accused Rose of making sexual advances and then retaliating against her when she rejected them. In exchange for the payment, Hatt withdrew a complaint before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, and a lawsuit she filed in Barnstable Superior Court.
In both, Hatt disclosed that she had a consensual relationship with Rose. After a breakup, she alleges, Rose persisted in his pursuit of her, and took away overtime in retaliation.
The FBI and a grand jury are looking into the fire department’s ambulance billing. In October, the town revealed that it had overcharged Medicare and Medicaid by $37,505.
With Rose gone, there remains turmoil within the department. Deputy Fire Chief Shawn Broadley sent selectmen a letter announcing his intention to retire effective Feb. 17. That letter details the chaos inside the department, though selectmen chairman Brian Packish says the staff of the department stands ready to meet any emergency.