By Jeff Gallatin
For one of the few times in his career as a North Olmsted Police Department officer, Detective Chuck Fioritto didn’t have a clue Friday.
Fioritto, who joined the force in 1999, was honored Aug. 3 by his department and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives with a special plaque noting his key role in the several-month investigation, arrest and conviction in federal court of former North Olmsted businessman David Katrenick on weapons charges. Members of Fioritto’s family, as well as department and federal officers, were gathered in the police station’s squad room to surprise him with the award and a reception in his honor.
Walking into the squad room with a fellow detective, Fioritto’s face registered his initial disbelief and surprise at the event.
“I had no clue about this,” he said. “All I got from the chief was that he, the captain and I had to meet with a federal official today. He had even told me that I should probably dress up a little for it, so I did.”
Fioritto even noted his wife Mary Ann, who was aware of the upcoming event, went along with the surprise nature of the event and asked him Friday morning why he was dressing up in a suit and tie.
“Nobody told me anything or even hinted at it,” he said, while noting fellow North Olmsted officers, federal officers, family and even some members of the media were aware of the event.
After the presentation, Fioritto had a steady stream of well-wishes, including handshakes and congratulations from many fellow officers and hugs and accolades from family – including his brother Steve, a 17-year veteran of the Lakewood Police Department.
“He (Chuck) did a lot of fine work on this case,” Steve said. “He put a lot of time in on this one.”
Fioritto said he was pleased with the end results in the case.
“John (ATF agent John Kilnapp, who worked with Fioritto on the case and presented him with the plaque) did a lot of work, too, and we got help and information from a lot of other officers,” Fioritto said. “We had to do a lot of work and make sure we got it right. But we go it right, and a bad man is off the streets.”
Katrenick was sentenced in June to 110 months, or more than nine years, in prison by U.S. District Judge Christopher Boyko. The charges stemmed from an investigation of Katrenick’s buying and selling of weapons and ammunition on Craigslist. Because he was a convicted felon for several sex offenses, including rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated assault and theft in Georgia, Katrenick was prohibited from having any firearms. When he is done with the federal sentence, officials said he likely will face additional time for parole violation on the Georgia charges.
Officials said Katrenick, the former owner of Lazy Dave’s Tattoo Shop in North Olmsted, also was trading tattoos for some of the weapons. He was arrested in his vehicle in late 2011 by city and federal officers, a short distance away from his North Olmsted home. Officers confiscated six rifles and shotguns, and ammunition, from the home.
Fioritto said he never expected anything like the award, either when he became a police officer or even during the investigation.
“No, I expected to come to work, then do my job and go home at the end of the day,” he said.
In describing the investigation, Kilnapp noted federal and local officers put a lot of time in.
“You follow up leads and check on different parts of cases and you want someone good to work with, and I got one in Chuck,” Kilnapp said. “He stayed busy on this case the whole time and never let up on it.”
Kilnapp noted that the investigation took officers to several counties in the northern Ohio area.
“It’s the type of case where you had to get everything just right,” Kilnapp said.
The federal officer noted Fioritto was prepared for unexpected developments right up to the day of the arrest.
“We had planned to go in and get him at his house after his daughter got on the school bus and was off to school that day,” he said. “But he got up three or four hours early and apparently was going hunting. But Chuck had set up patrol cars to watch the house and they alerted us he was leaving, so we ended up arresting him a short distance away where he wasn’t a problem for anybody else in the area.”
North Olmsted safety officials were pleased by the award and the investigation.
“Chuck is very deserving of this honor,” Safety/Service Director Scott Thomas said. “As a former detective, I know detective work is usually not very glamorous but is very detailed, exacting and time-consuming to get it right. He did a fine job on this.”
North Olmsted police Chief Jamie Gallagher lauded Fioritto and Kilnapp’s work.
“There was a lot of great followup in this,” Gallagher said. “We had other officers getting tips and getting them to the right people, officers checking on the suspect and making sure the investigation was proceeding. John is an outstanding federal officer and works well with local law enforcement, and Chuck made sure everything was taken care of and the investigation, arrest and court case were all set and ready to go as each part of the case moved forward throughout the process.”