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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A spokeswoman says the state of New Jersey will continue to use private investigators to spy on Atlantic City firefighters who are on medical leave or out sick, despite complaints from the union that it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the spying was revealed when firefighters noticed a car parked at length outside their homes and became concerned, calling police. Officers ran the tags, revealing they belonged to an investigator.

John Varallo Jr., president of Local 198 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, says the union has no issue complying with sick checks, but called the private eye a “waste.”

The state assumed power over Atlantic City government under a takeover signed into law a year ago.

Lisa Ryan, a state spokeswoman, says the private investigator has so far cost the city about $17,000.

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Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com