Police Officer Is Fired But Secures Medical Retirement For Injuries . . . While Competing in Triathlons

GlembaThere is an interesting story about of Arizona involving an elite athlete Audrey Glemba, 49, who completed her latest Ironman Arizona last competition in November. Glemba has an impressive history of such competitions. The problem is that Glemba is a medically-retired police officer who collected worker’s compensation because she insisted that she was unable to meet even the minimum of duties as an officer. Glemba’s history is even more troubling.

Glemba reported a back and knee injury in 1995 during a training exercise with the Mesa Police Department. She was later promoted to sergeant and in 2002 she became supervisor of the Dobson Bicycle Squad. However, that 1995 injury appears to have been the basis for her medical retirement in 2008. It gets more bizarre. During that period from the injury to her medical retirement, she reportedly ran 29 races, including 10 triathlons. That is far more demanding than any police exercise or fitness requirement.

Yet, it gets even more bizarre. Before she was given a medical retirement, Glemba was under investigation by the internal affairs division. The investigation found that Glemba and members of the squad she supervised were taking photos of themselves, the homeless and disabled. The photos were offensive and ridiculed the homeless and disabled people in the pictures. It led to Glemba being fired in December 2008. However, she appealed her termination. In the meantime, the local pension board simply approved her medical retirement request. It is not clear what investigation was made or how the board could have missed Glemba competitions. It found that she was entirely unable to fulfill the basic functions of a police officer while Glemba was competing with elite athletes. She was also featured on a radio program for ripping out a kitchen and putting in a new one only months after the medical retirement. She was reportedly selected as the top performer in the handiest woman competition with Rosie on the House radio show.

She was briefly reinstated, retired with full benefits, and the investigation closed.

Two years after her retirement, Glemba applied for worker’s compensation and the city of Mesa is paying $508 a month for the rest of Glemba’s life in addition to her medical retirement benefits.

Glemba refused to say anything — which is a wise move given the possibility of fraud allegations. She only told the media that “This case has been tried to conclusion. If you … I’m not going to try it on television.”

It is not just Glemba but the police department and the local pension board that should be answering questions. Since she has continued to receive benefits, there is a risk of a criminal investigation. However, she can claim that she is the beneficiary of physical therapy.

Source: KPHO

35 thoughts on “Police Officer Is Fired But Secures Medical Retirement For Injuries . . . While Competing in Triathlons

  1. Disability and worker’s comp. involving public employees, particularly police and firefighters is a travesty. The fraud is some of the most blatant. The 9/11 cops and firefighters are a great example. The most egregious fraud claims I worked involved cops/firefighters.

  2. These “disability retirements” scam for police and firemen has become rampant in recent years. They get hurt just before their normal retirement would begin because disability retirement compensation is greater than normal retirement. This kind of person is scum.

  3. Another reason that ordinary citizens often regard government employees with suspicion and a degree of contempt.

    Before the screams start, government employees may not like what I said, but the statement is accurate.

  4. I’m aghast….. But I know way too many officers that have gotten medical discharges from duties only to start another career…..

  5. And yesterday I read in the NY Daily news a story about a man who had worked for 24 yrs collecting trash for the city of NY who was fired for accepting a $20 tip for picking up a huge pile of extra trash. He did not ask for a tip. It was offered. Apparently he loses his pension as part of his firing.

  6. Lier, lier, pants on fire. Chance are I know the workers compensation attorney who helped perpetuate this fraud. Send them both to jail for creating this mess.

  7. I don’t have all the records in front of me so this is just a guess which represents my opinion.

    It sounds to me like there was a big row between Audrey, her department and the city. Each side was has slinging the mud at each other and it proved to be mutually embarassing for each side and a costly and (most imporatantly to them) a political liability to each.

    So, they decided to retire her out to make her go away. That way she got something the state retirement fund paid and would go away. The department and the city would be rid of her. So the local retirement board was cajouled into towing the line. (probable because members of that board were personally connected maybe two steps away from city or police department suits)

    Knee injury? Perhaps but it looks like it certainly healed very well since she is not running marithons. I don’t know if medical disabilities are incontestable once granted in this state though.

    Some commentators have written of the abuses of police / firefighter medical retirement. Yes, that does happen. From my perspective and the sampling was only within my community, it was worse in the 1980’s. Soft tissue injury was the most common and stress disability (which was permitted under Plan 1 and after 1978 Plan 2 it was not) ranked highly.

    But this woman in my view is an insult to all LEOs and Firefighters who are honestly disabled and cannot return to work.

  8. Darren, People like her cast a shadow over all the legit claims. That said, the public disability comp world is MUCH more rampant w/ fraud than the private sector.

  9. I think we all know people who seem to think that getting something for nothing – a scam- is what we would ALL do given the chance and they are just slicker and cleverer than the rest of us ! I personally am contemptuous of these types, but they are all around us, and I have known lots of them in my life. I am content with an honest way of living and tried to make sure my 4 children grew up with good values too, there are quite enough villains in the world.

  10. Veronica, You would be heartened to know how many people feel as you do and act on it. I would get anonymous tips on scammers all the time. Insurance companies get many tips daily. Disability has EXPLODED during the Obama Administration. It’s a scandal.

  11. nick spinelli

    Veronica, You would be heartened to know how many people feel as you do and act on it. I would get anonymous tips on scammers all the time. Insurance companies get many tips daily. Disability has EXPLODED during the Obama Administration. It’s a scandal.
    Here is an example of a disabled engineer who still is connected to or close to the scandal at the T-Party version of Occupy Hollywood:

  12. Mr. Turley,

    It’s interesting how you and the media find that because a story airs, it is absolutely the truth. I was injured in 1995 and over the years, my injury became worse to the point that I had to have major reconstructive surgery that has left me with pins and a rod in my spine. I also had knee surgery to repair a tear. Yes, I can swim, bike, and run/walk a triathlon, but that does not mean I can do ALL THE ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS OF A POLICE OFFICER. In my City, if you cannot do all the functions, you either have to retire or you will be fired. I never said I could not work, nor did I say I could not meet “even the minimum duties of an officer,” as you say. I would have loved to stay and do desk work, but I had no choice but to retire. Because it was due to an injury while on duty, it is termed a medical retirement.
    As for the investigation, my termination was reviewed by an Independent Civilian Review Board who found the charges and claims made by the Department were not substantiated and recommended I be placed back into duty, which is what happened. The two had nothing to do with each other. The Chief who fired me left the department shortly after I was reinstated. One other sergeant who had also been fired was given his job back and a Commander was placed back on duty…you assume from there. The Board did not approve my retirement while I was under appealing my termination. It was approved after I was reinstated.
    My medical condition and ability to work was evaluated by no less than four (4) Orthopedic Specialists or Neurosurgeons, not the Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor who spoke in the report. I was also evaluated by a specialist who determined I could not do all the essential functions, it was not simply my say so.
    As for Workman’s Compensation, I did not apply for it two years after retiring. As is the same for employees across the country, it is involved in any injury at work. I filled out an injury report when the injury happened and the Industrial Commission took over from there. After the injury becomes stable, a Loss of Earning Capacity is completed. The State determines the amount of money due to the LEC. The Workman’s Compensation I am receiving is NOT for the rest of my life. It supplements me for the difference in the amount of money I made as a police officer and what was determined by the state to be what I can make currently. Should I find a job making more than what the state felt I could make, that money will go away.
    Please make sure you have all the facts to a story before you decide to continue to destroy someone’s reputation.

  13. Ms. Glemba, Firstly, it’s not “workman’s” compensation it’s “worker’s” compensation. Secondly, your case is in the mainstream media. This is a great blog, but the demographic is not nearly as many as the news outlets covering your story. Finally, regarding your reputation, many I suggest a mirror.

  14. Mr. Spinelli,
    If the most fault you can find in the true facts of my case are that I called it “workman’s compensation” rather than “worker’s compensation”, I would request that you take a step back and really review what I said. You would want the same if the tables were turned and you had a story printed about you that stated misinformation and left out many critical facts. Thanks

  15. Ms. Glemba, You will have to excuse me for not relying on you for “the facts.” I have investigated insurance fraud cases for decades. Nothing you have said mitigates the fact that you are a triathlete collecting disability. Your nuanced bureaucratic explanation is something I have heard in the many cases I’ve investigated. You could not pick a worse person to try and sell that story. I could not see “the tables turned” because I could never see me living on the dole if I were someone of your physical prowess and stamina. I live w/ chronic pain and have much empathy for those who do, and still suck it up and work. Regarding the “worker’s” compensation. It’s just a pet peeve of mine. It has been called “worker’s” comp for over 20 years. The hardworking taxpayers of Arizona deserve the respect of you knowing the name of the department paying for your lifestyle.

    Ms. Glemba, you ALLUDE to the possibility of returning to work and forfeiting your disability payments. Please let us know when that happens. Until then, I don’t see much to discuss.

  16. Ms. Glemba

    First, we thank you for coming to the blog and giving your side of this issue. This is only the second time I have seen someone who was written about who took the time to offer their perspective.

    I would like to apologize for the last paragraph of my comment two before this one. I shouldn’t have said that and it was a disservice to you regardless of the situation you were in either way. I shouldn’t have characterized you as being a discredit when I haven’t met you. I am sorry for that and I will work to not do this again for you or others in the future.

    You do bring a point up that most are not aware of. Law Enforcement and Firefighter disability is not always the same as what most people understand to be disability, that being physically totally disabled. It is as you mentioned generally the inability to perform the duties of a LEO due to an on the job injury.

    But what brings up this controversy is the set of events. That is the strife between you, your department, and possibility the city involved. There was the firing, then the reinstatement, a short time and then a medical retirement, and then your successes in your athletic ability. People draw conclusions on this. As I stated before I don’t have the facts about things, I think what was reported about the pictures on the PD’s wall was pretty weak, if that is all there was, it’s not something worth firing over. I will grant you that. So if the reinstatement was ordered for that reason alone, I would say your reinstatement was reasonable.

    I might be wrong but from what I see there must have been some big controversy / politics going on in your department whatever the cause and my experience has been when these type of issues happen, more often the medical retirement or early retirement seems to happen where both sides can get what they want. That is what I think, correctly or not. I suppose if there wasn’t the conflict in the department I wouldn’t myself pay much attention. But it does sound rather curious that someone disabled for a knee and back injury would run marathons later. But then again I can understand, from what I read in your reply, that the surgery you might have suffered was enough to leave the force.

    Again, Thank you for offering your rebuttal.

  17. Mr. Smith,

    Thank you very much for taking the time to write. I do appreciate it. Yes, it seems curious that I can do what I do physically, but please remember that I retired 5 years ago and have undergone hundreds of hours of physical therapy to get to where I am. There are also many other people with disabilities who can do an Ironman but cannot do all the functions of a police officer.

    Mr. Spinelli, I have been gainfully employed for some time now. I just make less than I did as a police officer. The news article failed to mention that as well. I can understand you have your doubts, but what I say is accurate. All I can do is present the other side and give you the opportunity to have an open mind about me.

    Thank you.

  18. Ms. Glemba, I must say I am impressed by your responses here. I hope your new career advances to a point where you no longer will be taking money from the taxpayers. My other hope is that you remain here and become a regular commenter. That will allow folks to get to know you and based on these few comments, maybe lessen the negative impression.

  19. Mr. Spinelli,

    Thank you for the response and for the offer to stay on this site. I too hope my position turns profitable enough to completely eliminate the Workers’ Compensation money I am receiving. That is my goal. Thanks again for your time.

  20. Having been a high school and collegiate athlete I have no problem with the notion that you can be injured as Ms. Glemba claims and then come back and run marathons. Likewise many do marathons while injured. This notion is not just an exception but is generally the rule for hardcore athletes. At 51 I’ve gone through this process multiple times in my life.

  21. Ms. Glemba, I made a pretty good living doing insurance fraud work as a PI. That was the bulk of my business. That may a good avenue for you to pursue. I turned down a lot of work because fraud is so systemic and growing. It would be a win/win for you and the taxpayers of Arizona. Just a suggestion.

  22. Thank you, Mr. Vieira, I couldn’t have said it better. Mr. Spinelli, that is a path I may definitely have to pursue. Thank you for the information.

  23. Ms. Glemba, re the gratuitous “itchinBayDog” comment, one thing you’ll note on this blog is that there are lots of really ballsy men willing to speak disrespectfully while hiding behind a pen name – otherwise living life with a permanent lip quiver. I commend you for telling your story openly. It’s a mark of character.

Comments are closed.