THE KING OF CAPE

A former Cape Coral fire chief is under investigation after disturbing allegations of distributing child pornography.

In 2022, Fort Myers police were told that child pornography was on the account of Michael Burkhart, an 18-year-old Cape Coral employee.

The first thing Burkhart did was send an email to the city saying he was retiring effective Jan. 6.

Burkhart declined to speak to WINK News about the allegations against him.

A fact-finding report obtained by WINK News says the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children notified Fort Myers police in May 2022 after Snapchat alerted them to suspected child pornography on Burkhart’s account.

In July, FMPD detectives searched two years of Burkhart’s Snapchat data and found several images containing child pornography.

On August 2, detectives along with Homeland Security agents searched his home and seized 17 items.

But what those detectives took, no one will say.

Burkhart denied using Snapchat.

“I don’t even have an app anymore,” he said.

But the same report said Burkhart’s wife told investigators what he did.

And Burkhart denies using Snapchat for the second time.

That same day, Cape Coral Fire Chief Ryan Lamp said he would be suspended with pay pending an investigation into possible disciplinary action.

Then, in December 2022, Cape Coral Fire officials received the findings of the Fort Myers Police Department and decided to discipline Burkhart.

But on Dec. 16, Burkhart sent an email announcing his retirement effective Jan. 6.

Lamb told WINK News in a statement: “Firefighters have a sacred duty to uphold the public’s trust and serve the community. Mr. Burkhart’s alleged actions are a serious betrayal of these core values.”

Fort Myers Police told WINK News that the criminal investigation into Burkhart is ongoing.

Cape Fire said if a judge or jury finds him guilty of the child pornography charge, Burkhart will not receive his pension.

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