Former Trinity Ambulance Employees To Testify In Certification Investigation

The widespread EMT scandal stems from the investigation of a Lexington firefighter, Mark Culleton of Billerica.


 
 

RITA SAVARD, Lowell Suun | | Tuesday, August 17, 2010


LOWELL - Former Trinity Ambulance employees are being subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury as a probe into false EMT certification and training records pushes forward.

More than 200 emergency medical technicians and paramedics across Massachusetts have been implicated in a statewide licensing fraud scandal, including 37 from Trinity, a Lowell-based private ambulance company. Sources told The Sun yesterday that investigations are starting to shine a light on Trinity's top managers, who allegedly "fostered" a culture of certification fraud that was present at the company "for years."

"I believe I was subpoenaed because I know the practices of what went on at Trinity," said a former 17-year Trinity employee, who asked to remain anonymous as he is scheduled to testify in court today. "It's a definite that the owners of the company, that management, knew employees signed OEMS rosters and did not attend classes. It was a common practice."

John Chemaly, co-owner and president of Trinity, declined to comment yesterday because the matter is still under investigation.

In June, the state Department of Public Health released the names of the 207 EMTs caught up in the certification scandal. Among the EMTs punished for falsifying records, Leo Nault, an employee of Trinity, had his certification suspended for life after investigations revealed he took money in exchange for issuing licenses for courses that were never attended.

Chemaly has told The Sun that Nault, of Nashua, was fired after his actions were confirmed by state investigators.

The widespread EMT scandal stems from the investigation of a Lexington firefighter, Mark Culleton of Billerica.

A tip called into the state accused Culleton, who trained other EMTs, of issuing hundreds of certifications for public-safety personnel even though they never took the required courses.

EMTs must attend classes on their own every two years to be recertified.

Culleton, former owner of a state-certified EMT training company, Life Saving Maneuvers of Billerica, has since surrendered his certifications and vowed never to teach classes again, according to DPH reports.

Chemaly previously told The Sun that the Culleton scandal raised a red flag and prompted Trinity to call the state and conduct its own internal investigation of employees.

"As a result of what occurred in Billerica, we did a self-study here," Chemaly said. "We took samples of recertification credentials and found that some employees were involved with a rogue instructor that took their money, but some of the classes were not conducted. But they still got certification."

Some former Trinity employees, who admitted wrongdoing, have publicly said what the company did was worse.

Former Trinity employee Craig Clough used the Internet to vent his frustrations after losing his job. On wordpress.com , Clough wrote that Trinity employees "did the same thing" as their employers.

"The Clinical Director has been passing around rosters for Con-Ed (continuing education) and refreshers for years to employees, management, owners and outside police and fire departments," Clough wrote. "Oh sure there are legit classes, but how many people have witnessed what she has done with the rosters? Everyone has!"

Clough added that at least twice, he saw rosters left for people to sign so that " it looks like a legit class happened." He also said one of Trinity's owners and his wife both had their names on the roster for classes Clough took even though Clough never saw them at a single class.

"I may be bitter and angry, but the bottom line is these people did worse than any of us and still have jobs, still have benefits and still have not admitted that they have done wrong," Clough wrote.

Clough did not return a reporter's phone call yesterday, but sources said Clough was also subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury last week.

Most of the Trinity employees involved in the certification scandal received suspensions of 45 days or nine months, depending on whether they used the falsified certifications they received.

Last summer, the town of Hamilton was part of a similar investigation. In August 2009, former police Chief Walter Cullen was among four people indicted on public corruption charges after a grand-jury investigation into falsified EMT training records.

Despite Trinity's exodus of employees in June, public-safety officials in Chelmsford and Lowell reported no lag in emergency-response times from the company. Trinity also has offices in Haverhill, Boxboro and a half-dozen towns in southeastern New Hampshire, including Atkinson, Danville, Hampstead, Newton, Sandown and Plaistow.



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