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Fake Fire Department lieutenant duped Staten Island businesses for profit

Robert Schnepf, aka "Lieutenant Hart," is accused of swindling businesses on Staten Island while posing as an FDNY EMS lieutenant, according to fire marshals. (Photo courtesy of FDNY)

An alleged con man wound up in handcuffs for posing as a lieutenant with the FDNY’s EMS division to steal valuables from several Staten Island businesses, the department announced Friday.

Robert Schnepf, 45, faces petit larceny, criminal impersonation of a public servant and possession of a forged instrument for his alleged scheme, in which he portrayed an EMS officer named “Lieutenant Hart.”

But Schnepf wasn’t in the business of saving lives, according to Fire Commissioner Dan Nigro — he was out for himself.

According to the FDNY, the purported Lieutenant Hart was picked up on June 19 in Queens after being spotted acting suspiciously inside a public park. The suspect wore what appeared to be a department-standard, light blue dress shirt with the words FDNY embroidered on his left and the name “Lt. Hart” stitched in on the right side.

During an investigation, the FDNY Marshals learned that Schnepf, while posing as Hart, had visited numerous Staten Island businesses in previous weeks and swindled from them money, goods and services.

“It is a complete abuse of public trust for someone to impersonate a public servant,” said Commissioner Nigro. “Members of this Department are proud to represent an agency that people can count on in their time of need. We and our partners in the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement alike will not tolerate any situation where someone is in the community falsely representing themselves for personal gain.”

Nigro reminded that FDNY officials never request or accept any money or other form of payment from the public, at any time. 

Fire marshals believe that Schnepf may have pulled off similar con jobs across the city. Anyone who believes they were visited by “Lieutenant Hart” can call the Bureau of Fire Investigation at 718-722-3600.

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