A Long Beach firefighter has been arrested and charged with a years-long stalking campaign against a rival firefighter -- the rival's latest accusations of relentless bullying against the fire department.
According to Long Beach City Court papers charging misdemeanor stalking starting in 2009, firefighter Brian McNamara, 37, of Long Beach, is accused of repeatedly antagonizing the rival and his wife, John and Donna Ritter.
Outside their house, he was "walking back and forth . . . like a monkey," and while Ritter was on his porch, he said, McNamara cursed and vowed to haunt him forever. In the streets, he screamed expletives and ridiculed the man's firefighters' union shirt.
Through an attorney, McNamara pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Wednesday before City Judge Roy Tepper, who issued a protective order barring McNamara from contacting the couple. Upon spotting a reporter, McNamara left court through a private door. McNamara, of 42 Vermont St., is free on $100 bail. He's been a city firefighter since 2005.
McNamara is one of Long Beach's about 30 paid firefighters. In 2012, according to the city, he earned $123,000.
The city's top lawyer, Corey Klein, said officials were considering whether personnel action would be taken.
In 2008, McNamara made headlines when he had two NYPD police officers arrested when he was bludgeoned during a late-night dispute over comments made to his sister. The beating left him bloody and with two black eyes.
Ritter, who retired in 2008 after 22 years on the job, has collected more than $50,000 in legal settlements from the city and its firefighters' union, which footed much of the bill.
Ritter, a former union leader, lost an election to the current administration. Legal papers say he's been mercilessly bullied, including bawdy text messages such as "wanna snuggle?" and middle-of-the-night hang-up calls. He once found an image of his head superimposed on one of two bikini-clad men in a photograph. And just before his wedding, in 2008, an anonymous Craigslist invitation asked the public to "help support gay marriage," suggesting the crashers "wear all your glitter and gold" to meet "plenty of sexy single men." The post was later traced to a union computer plugged in at fire headquarters.
In settlement papers, the union denied wrongdoing. Bill Piazza, president of the Long Beach Professional Fire Fighters Association, where McNamara is secretary, said the terms of the settlement prohibit him from commenting.
Reached in Naples, Fla., where the couple sought refuge after their Long Beach home was destroyed by superstorm Sandy, Ritter's wife said they're too distraught to comment.But before the couple moved, she wrote in 2009 to the city manager that she feared in an emergency they would not be helped.