The full investigative report into last year’s scandalous San Jose Fire Department strip club incident is now public, and while there are some possibly plausible excuses for the first strip club visit, firefighters claim they cannot remember visiting the second club.
In the ten months since the San Jose Fire Department strip club scandal broke, the City of San Jose has been largely unwilling to publicly release details on exactly why this truck full of on-duty firefighters was in front of the Pink Poodle strip club, and why an exotic dancer wearing nothing but a bikini and high heels stepped out of the truck. So the Bay Area News Group sued the city to get the investigative report on what exactly happened in the video seen below, and the News Group won that case in June.
EXCLUSIVE:— Damian Trujillo (@newsdamian) October 7, 2022
Person posts this stunning video on social media. @SJFD:
“The Department has become aware of a concerning video posted on social media. An investigation will be initiated to determine facts surrounding the video.” pic.twitter.com/tSmUC8Q2VY
And this week, the News Group released their summary of the strip club incident investigation. We learn that one firefighter, Captain William Tognozzi, was disciplined and demoted to the title of “Fire Engineer,” and that is the extent of any discipline. Which doesn’t sound like much disciplinary action, but the details of the incident range from highly embarrassing, to explanations that really stretch credibility.
We are finally hearing the San Jose firefighters' side of the story for The Pink Poodle strip club scandal. 🧵 pic.twitter.com/Wt333lMKDK— Amy Larson (@AmyLarson25) August 9, 2023
In the words of the Bay Area News Group, “Crew members claimed Fire Captain William Tognozzi, the ranking officer in the crew, had recruited a photographer who also worked at the Pink Poodle to take pictures of them to adorn the wall at Fire Station 4.” Three other firefighters made the trip that notorious night last October, and their claim is that the pictures had nothing to do with exotic dancers, and were merely on a flash drive which the photographer was in possession of at the club. KRON4’s analysis of the report adds that “The flash drive contained professional-style headshots of the firefighters that were intended to be used for a yearbook.”
(Though as the New Group notes, that photographer is not named, though the report says he specifically declined to cooperate with the investigation by the Fire Department Bureau of Administrative Services.)
While the firefighters were at the Pink Poodle, the dancer reportedly said “Give me a ride. I want a ride.” The report claims the firefighters consented to “appease her.”
But this does not explain why, as GPS data showed, the firefighters then promptly went to a second adult entertainment club, a bar called AJ’s Club which is described as a “bikini bar.” They initially claimed they went straight back to the station, and once confronted with the GPS data showing otherwise, they said they couldn’t remember being at AJ’s Club. “None was able to provide a substantive explanation. Most strikingly, none of the four crew members acknowledge being there,” the report said
KRON4’s analysis of the report adds there were “zero calls for service during that time period” in question.
Tognozzi was apologetic in his interview with investigators, saying, “I made a poor decision that night.”
San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan and Fire Chief Robert Sapien both declined to comment to news outlets on the contents of the report. The only comment the Bay Area News Group got was from San Jose Firefighters Union Local 230 President Matt Tuttle.
“Our members are professional firefighters who have dedicated their lives to the protection of life and property of the over one million residents of San Jose,” Tuttle told the News Group. “One positive or negative incident does not deter from the mission we have all undertook to keep the community safe.”
Image: The Pink Poodle via Yelp