Fire contractor sentenced to 10 months in prison

David Monington, a wildland fire contractor, has been sentenced to 10 months in federal prison for forging the names of fire training instructors on course completion certificates and task books. In addition, his sentence which came down on February 1, ordered that he receive psychiatric care, requires that he pay $5,000 in restitution to one of his victims, and that he pay for his own incarceration.

Here is what we wrote about the case on November 8, 2009:

In a case that Wildfire Today has been following since November 17, 2008, David Monington pleaded guilty last week in a Rapid City, SD federal court to mail fraud for sending wildfire training certificates through the mail with forged signatures of fire training instructors.

The original indictment for Mr. Monington alleged he forged about 20 signatures of South Dakota firefighting officials in an attempt to gain certification from the National Wildfire Suppression Association. The documents included training certificates, position task books, and a performance rating. The documents fraudulently attest to his training and experience as a firefighter.

Mr. Monington was trying to become qualified as Air Tactical Group Supervisor, Strike Team Leader, and Helibase Manager.

“A number of the printed names and signatures of certifying officials were misspelled, while others were followed by incorrect listings of the certifying officials’ titles,” the indictment stated.

The charge to which he pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, but the plea deal specifies that the prosecutors will recommend five years of probation and $5,000 restitution when Mr. Monington is sentenced on February 1, 2010.

It is interesting that the plea deal did not include any prison time, but the judge sentenced him to 10 months. GREAT! It is frightening that someone came close to being certified as Air Tactical Group Supervisor, Strike Team Leader, and Helibase Manager without the appropriate training and experience.

UPDATE, Feb. 9:

We have posted an update, with the details about Monington’s crime, HERE.

Thanks Dick

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

7 thoughts on “Fire contractor sentenced to 10 months in prison”

  1. I think the IC trainee on the last fire I was on in the Ely District must have forged his certs and quals becuase he was/is an idiot, but he was really good at acting like a badass.

  2. I am involved with a fire contractor investigation for wire fraud as well.

    I am just thankful that people are looking at fire records now and I hope they keep it up. Someday, someone will get killed or seriously injured. Then the IC or other overhead on the federal side will be to blame when it’s not there fault~

    The people I worked for were not giving employees the whole wild-land fire refresher. There were other training issues that I saw as well.

    I got called and grilled in person by the OIG here in California for an R5 contractor. If they are charged and prosecuted they face % years in prison and a 250,000 fine.

    I hope if they are truly guilty and that can be proven, that they go down and it makes the other contractors watch what they are doing.

    The nice thing either way, is that this will weed out some of the bad people.

    There could be more to the story, but I do not know how many people or how many separate charges they are looking at.

    1. How dare you insinuate that “other contractors watch what they are doing”. I am an engine contractor. I am also an instructor who is certified by a private organization and a state fire marshal’s office. I am proud of the work I do. I try to maintain a high level of integrity. I think most people in the wildland fire world, be they a private company or a government entity, do good work.

      There is probably a bad apple in every barrel. It sounds like Mr. Monington commited a crime and was convicted of it. Hopefully we won’t see him in the wildland fire business again. Are there other bad apples out there in the private or public world? There probably are. Let’s set high standards and strive to attain them.

      I obviously don’t know the whole story but let’s not forget that it was a contractor’s organization that was “looking at fire records” and raised the red flags about Mr. Monington in the first place.

  3. So the Lesson Learned is that, if you are going to forge Fire Quals documents, hand carry them to the certifying office rather than using the US Mail system; or maybe FedEx or UPS??

    1. Right.

      The original indictment in federal court in Rapid City, SD was for two counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud. So it makes you wonder if there were any other law violations with which he, or the next Monington, could be charged.

  4. note: This is the first time anyone has been caught, prosecuted and convicted. This is not the last time it will occur, and it was not the first.


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