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Officials: Footville firefighter made phony 911 calls

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Ted Sullivan
September 9, 2010
— It was suspicious when Footville volunteer firefighter Dustin R. Bentivegna was among the first to respond to routine reports of gas odors, calls he might normally ignore from his home miles away in Janesville.

“He never appeared to be begging for a call or that kind of thing,” Fire Chief Joe North said. “He wasn’t all excited and gung-ho or all that.”


It turns out, Bentivegna might have loved being a firefighter so much that he made phony 911 calls to relish his role. He is accused of using his cell phone to make four false reports of a gas odor within his fire district, Rock County Sheriff’s Capt. Jude Maurer said.


“He just admitted that he wanted to go out on a call,” Maurer said.


Bentivegna, 24, of 529 Rimrock Road, Janesville, was arrested Saturday on four charges of misdemeanor reporting a false emergency. He was booked in the Rock County Jail and released.


Bentivegna was a probationary volunteer firefighter training to become a regular volunteer firefighter, North said. He had been with the department for about six weeks.


He was fired Saturday for conduct unbecoming of a firefighter, North said.


Bentivegna is accused of making the calls between Monday, Aug. 30, and Friday. He didn’t provide his name when calling 911, only saying there was a gas odor near an intersection, Maurer said.


No one thought anything of the calls the first couple times, but the third and fourth was awfully unusual, Maurer said. A deputy then investigated and saw that all four calls came from Bentivegna’s cell.


“They were going out chasing a made-up call,” Maurer said. “They would check out the area and would come up with nothing.”


North said he has read books about emergency workers creating problems in order to respond to calls.


“It’s kind of a weird phenomenon,” North said. “The only thing we’re thankful for is that he didn’t set anything on fire.”


Bentivegna also was arrested in May on a charge of impersonating a police officer, Janesville Police Sgt. Chad Pearson said.


Bentivegna was accused of telling two juvenile females at Kiwanis Pond that he was an officer and sharing stories about his law enforcement escapades, Pearson said.


He pleaded no contest to misdemeanor impersonating a peace officer and was fined $488, according to court records.


Bentivegna is scheduled to be in Rock County Court on Oct. 5 on the false emergency charges.



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