NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell terminated the city’s former acting fire chief Tuesday after an internal investigation accused him of lying about the extent of his work-related injuries.

Mitchell said Deputy Fire Chief Paul Coderre claimed to have suffered from a number of work-related injuries throughout 2019. Coderre was subsequently placed on injury leave in August 2020, during which he received full pay, tax-free, as required by state law.

Throughout the time he was on leave, Mitchell said Coderre received $208,574 in injured-on-duty benefits. The city also paid Coderre $13,500 in accrued vacation time.

Last fall, Mitchell said the city ordered Coderre to undergo an independent medical examination, “in order to determine his continued eligibility for injured-on-duty benefits.”

That examination, according to Mitchell, was the result of an investigation into Coderre’s injuries by the New Bedford Personnel Office.

The investigation began last summer when the Personnel Office conducted video surveillance on Corderre “performing activities inconsistent with his alleged injuries,” Mitchell said.

(Story continues below video, provided by the City of New Bedford)

Those activities included Coderre unloading a 176-pound barbecue smoker grill from the bed of his pick-up truck, according to the investigation.

At first, the independent medical examiner initially accepted Coderre’s account of his injuries. But when the medical examiner was later presented with the surveillance footage, Mitchell said the medical examiner reassessed Coderre’s condition, ultimately concluding he had been “putting on an act.”

Earlier this month, Mitchell appointed Gerard Hayes, a retired municipal human resources professional, to determine whether there was just cause to discipline Coderre.

During a hearing that Coderre and his attorney declined to attend, Mitchell said Hayes reported his findings.

Hayes, according to Mitchell, determined Coderre had “engaged in an activity that is detrimental to the [New Bedford] Fire Department.”

“He engaged in conflict of interest to use his position for personal gain,” Hayes wrote in his report. “He abused the department injury leave policy.”

“It is probable that these actions were known within the typically tight knit firefighter community with adverse impact on member morale and discipline,” he continued. “It would not be a surprise if they lead to very serious disrespect for superior officers by some and attempts at similar dishonest behavior.”

Mitchell condemned Coderre’s actions stating that Coderre, “failed to adhere to the policies and procedures of his own department.”

“In doing so, he betrayed the trust of the firefighters that served under his command, and he took advantage of city taxpayers who paid his injured-on-duty benefits,” Mitchell said. “New Bedford residents expect and deserve a fire department whose every member adheres to the highest professional standards, regardless of rank.”

Coderre had been appointed acting fire chief back in 2018 when the department’s previous chief retired. He was returned to deputy chief status once Chief Scott Kruger was appointed earlier this month.

Mitchell said Coderre applied for an accidental disability pension through the New Bedford Retirement Board last month. He said they have supplied the findings of their investigation to the retirement board.

The city has also submitted a referral to the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office to determine whether they can take further legal action against Coderre.

12 News attempted to reach Coderre at his home Tuesday night but he did not respond.