Judge: Drug-addled EMT son of FDNY chief should lose his city job

Robert Gala, 26, unsuccessfully argued that his oxycodone addiction was a disability that should have spared him termination after five years on the job


Stephen Rex Brown and Larry Mcshane
New York Daily News

An administrative judge recommended a pink slip Tuesday for the black sheep son of a high-ranking FDNY official, finding the city EMT’s history of on-the-job opioid abuse and poor performance merited dismissal.

Robert Gala, 26, unsuccessfully argued that his oxycodone addiction was a disability that should have spared him termination after five years on the job. But Administrative Law Judge Astrid B. Gloade pointedly rejected his claims in ruling that Gala deserved to be fired on the merits of the case.

“It is difficult to reconcile respondent’s professed love for his job with the serious misconduct established here,” wrote Gloade in her pointed 24-page ruling. “A penalty of termination is appropriate.”

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro will make the final decision on Gala, the son of FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Michael Gala. A call to the FDNY for comment on the ruling was not returned Tuesday.

The younger Gala “testified that he performed (his) duties under the influence of controlled substances with a seeming lack of regard for the multiple lives that he placed at risk by doing so,” said Gloade. “Lastly, respondent’s evaluations reveal that he was, at best, a mediocre employee.”

Robert Gala was accused of four violations of FDNY protocol in 2016 and 2017 during his troubled and now tenuous tenure as an EMT. He tested positive for oxycodone without a prescription, and blew off a dispatch call because he wanted to finish his takeout meal.

Gala testified that he didn’t remember creating the false flagdown by a non-existent patient, nor creating a phony patient care report and forging his partner’s signature. But his partner, EMT Cristina Braun, testified about receiving a call of a person suffering a seizure — only to see Gala refuse to respond.

“Rob was leaving the Chinese food restaurant and getting in the ambulance," she testified. “I told him that we got a call ... He expressed that he didn’t want to take the call, he wanted to eat his food.”

On Aug. 21, 2017, Gala appeared for an FDNY drug test, but bailed without submitting a sample after citing a family emergency. A subsequent test detected the presence of oxycodone and oxymorphone in his system.

The maniac medic’s record also included at least three arrests for impersonating a cop. He also was a suspect in a robbery case after using a fake badge to terrorize a man on a Brooklyn street and search his pockets, according to information and a surveillance video released by the NYPD and sources with knowledge of the case.

None of his arrests went anywhere. All records are sealed, suggesting any charges against him were dropped. And Gala’s ability to hold the EMT job despite his record highlighted the familial bonds fundamental to the FDNY’s culture.

Gala’s attorney, Richard Washington, declined to comment.

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©2019 New York Daily News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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