Marco Island police, fire chiefs each suspended 30 days starting Monday
Marco Island Police Chief Tracy L. Frazzano and Marco Island Fire-Rescue Chief Christopher Byrne will start their 30-day suspensions Monday for their roles in misuse of the county's Eventbrite COVID-19 vaccine registration system, the city announced Thursday evening.
Marco Island Police Department Capt. Dave Baer and Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief Dave Batiato will temporarily replace Frazzano and Byrne, respectively, City Manager Mike McNees wrote in an email Friday.
McNees conducted an investigation that found Frazzano's husband, William Frazzano, 65, made an online appointment on the Eventbrite system before the city published the Eventbrite link on the city's website and social media accounts on Jan. 20.
McNees also concluded that Byrne failed to report the breach and allowed William Frazzano to take the vaccine during the city's first vaccination clinic on Jan. 22 despite Collier County EMS alerting him of the breach approximately 10 minutes before the Eventbrite link was published at 2 p.m.
Byrne alerted McNees on Jan. 28 about what happened, eight days after the incident, McNees said at a news conference Wednesday.
McNees wrote in a news release Wednesday that Byrne spoke with Frazzano and that she said she had provided the Eventbrite link to her husband believing that the link would not work until 2 p.m.
McNees wrote it is fundamental that public employees conduct themselves in a manner that merits the trust and respect of the community. He wrote it is also fundamental that they do not leverage their public positions for personal gain or benefit.
"The use of her position as chief of police to secure a coveted COVID-19 vaccination for her husband represents a clear failure on the part of Chief Frazzano to meet those standards," McNees wrote.
Frazzano and Byrne will receive no compensation or accrue any benefits while on suspension.
On Thursday, Baer sent an email at 1:01 p.m., attaching a written statement from Frazzano signed with her initials.
"I am sorry this occurred. A link was provided to my husband with the belief that it would go live at the same time for everyone. That was not the case. We thought the vaccine would have been wasted if he did not go. We regret this occurred and acknowledge that it would have been better to have not received the vaccine," Frazzano wrote.
Frazzano wrote she will focus on "rebuilding the confidence of the city and its residents."
At 3:43 p.m., Baer sent via email a new and longer version of Frazzano's written statement.
"It was never my intention to circumvent the registration process or deprive anyone of the vaccine. I was brought here to set a higher standard and I failed to meet that standard in this instance," Frazzano wrote.
At 5:25 p.m., Byrne sent a statement via email.
"I wish to extend my sincere apology for my serious lack of judgement (sic) regarding a local COVID-19 vaccination appointment. I let you all down and I am forever remorseful for the harm I have caused," Byrne wrote.
Byrne wrote he takes "total responsibility" for his actions.
"I make no excuses as I know many of you are struggling to obtain a vaccine to protect yourself and your loved ones. I will work tirelessly to earn back your trust and confidence for which I have damaged," Byrne wrote.
Frazzano and Byrne were placed on administrative leave Monday pending the result of the investigation into allegations involving "access and use" of the Eventbrite vaccine registration system, the city announced Monday.
On Jan. 22, the city and Collier EMS administered for the first time fewer than 300 doses at Veterans' Community Park.
The appointment slots, which were scheduled through the event management and ticketing website Eventbrite, were filled within three minutes of being made available online on Jan. 20, according to the city.