This famed fishing port on the North Shore is awash in a waterfront scandal with allegations of office thievery uncovered by a hidden video camera, a forged signature and three city employees fired or resigning since March. The mayor ousting Gloucester’s harbormaster last week has divided city officials and residents.

Thomas (TJ) Ciarametaro was fired over a forgery incident involving paperwork for a state fisheries grant. He said Mayor Greg Verga unfairly fired him after learning that his deputy harbormaster had forged a signature on a grant form.

“It’s city hall politics. But I am going to fight it,” Ciarametaro told GBH News.

Ciarametaro was removed as harbormaster last week and former Gloucester police chief John McCarthy was appointed by the mayor to lead the department in the interim, effective last Wednesday.

“The events leading to my termination began when I discovered discrepancies in city funds and equipment within the department,” Ciarametaro wrote in an online post Tuesday, calling his firing “clear retaliation” against him.

After noticing cash and other items missing from the harbormaster’s office last winter, Ciarametaro went to Gloucester Police in February, who advised him to use a hidden video camera to get evidence. That video allegedly showed former shellfish warden Peter Seminara taking $71 in cash from an office clerk’s cabinet.

Seminara — who, last month, was also fired by the city — told GBH News the allegations against him are “unfounded.” A Gloucester court official said the larceny case against Seminara has been transferred to Salem District Court but an arraignment is not yet scheduled.

Just weeks after the police investigation into the shellfish warden, Verga told City Council that forged signatures had been discovered on two contracts for grants from the State Division of Marine Fisheries.

“Both DMF and the city’s legal team conducted an investigation into the source of these documents and confirmed the falsified signatures,” Verga wrote in a memo to City Council on April 8, announcing he was replacing Ciarametaro as harbormaster.

Ciarametaro said his then-deputy harbormaster, Chad Johnson, admitted to forging signatures on the contracts for grants that had been awarded to Gloucester.

But Ciarametaro also downplayed the severity of the action.

“I can’t defend forgery or forging someone else's signature, but it wasn’t done in malice. The intended outcome was always the same,” he said. “The city did not get something they weren’t supposed to get.”

Johnson has since resigned, per Ciarametaro. Johnson could not be reached for comment.

Ciarametaro wants his job back. He pointed out that the harbor’s busiest season is just six weeks away with the summer onslaught of boaters and tourists about to fill this harbor. Among other responsibilities, harbormasters are charged with maintaining the harbor and responding to boating emergencies.

The mayor’s office told GBH News that it could not comment on personnel matters.

“The Mayor feels confident in former Police Chief and City Councilor John McCarthy’s ability to step in as interim harbormaster for the City of Gloucester,” a spokesperson for the office wrote in a statement. “This past weekend we had a productive and positive meeting with John and the Harbormaster’s Office staff to answer any questions and prepare for the upcoming summer season. The team is motivated and eager to get to work.”

Some city officials and mariners are coming to Ciarametaro’s defense and questioning Verga’s decision to fire Ciarametaro.

“There’s reasons that people are disciplined. None of which have been followed. So whether it’s an overreaction or just a misappropriation of authority, the paper trail is very precise. TJ didn’t forge any signatures, and TJ didn’t steal any money,” said At-large City Councilor Jeff Worthley. “So how he could be held accountable for that doesn’t make sense.”

Worthley said Ciarametaro ran one of the city’s best departments.

“For seven years, he’s turned the entire harbormaster’s office around ... advocated for more accessibility, more safety and just more attention to Gloucester Harbor,” he said. “I think his loss is incredible and unfortunate.”

Gordon Baird, who runs the Gloucester High School sailing program just down the dock from the harbormaster’s office, said Ciarmetaro has transformed the harbor for boaters, filling up moorings that had been empty for years.

“The way the boats work, permits are handed out. These guys are great [and] also very friendly,” Baird said. “They have done us on the sailing team a million favors, including saving us a couple of times when pop-up storms came up. Boats flip over — we don’t even have time, they are getting the kids out.”

But not every part of this waterfront is a fan. Ciarametaro antagonized local lobstermen when he agreed to testify against a fishing boat captain as an expert witness in a “Good Samaritan” case, according to a recent federal lawsuit and appeal. Ciarametaro himself then went on to sue city officials for allegedly retaliating against him over his decision to testify.

The Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, whose president Arthur (Sooky) Sawyer operates in Gloucester Harbor, said Ciarametaro was “anti-fisherman.”

Asked about Ciarametaro being fired, Sawyer said, “It’s all water over the dam now.”