By Joan Murray

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POMPANO BEACH (CBSMiami) — Four former Pompano Beach firefighter recruits are at the center of a hate symbol scandal.

On the last day of firefighting school, African American recruit Vilbert Green found a noose on his chair inside the training center in Pompano Beach.

“He was offended by it. He thought it was a bad joke. I said it’s not a joke,” said Fire Chief John Jurgle.

The head of training program brought the noose to the chief’s attention and he launched an investigation. Although the chief says “no one admitted to anything,” as a result of the findings, recruit Matthew Reilly was fired.

Recruits Geandy Perez, Kerop Berberian and Austin Sovay all resigned.

The chief said he determined during the investigation that Perez tied the knot, but no one ever owned up to putting the noose over Green’s chair.

“It wasn’t a noose. It was a fishing knot,” said Sovay.

His former colleague Berberian said, “People were let go for the wrong reasons.”

Green, who is still a Pompano Beach recruit, isn’t talking about what happened. No one would comment at his Miami Gardens home. Jurgle said the fact that none of the four men were willing to tell the truth troubled him.

The chief says he has no regrets on the outcome of the investigation.

“We will not tolerate from probationary employees a symbol of hate like that. I don’t see the humor in that,” said Jurgle.

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