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Emergystat Employees' Paychecks Bounce

JACKSON, Miss. -- At least some employees' paychecks from the Emergystat -- the Alabama-based company who halted services in almost two-dozen Mississippi counties Thursday -- have bounced.

Former Emergystat employee Mark Pierce of Philadelphia, found out Friday that the most recent paycheck he received from the company bounced when he tried to buy lunch at a Sonic and his debit card was declined.

"This is devastating to me," said Pierce who has six children ranging from ages 13 to 2. "We're employed by another service for now, but we're broke."

Emergystat, which halted service Wednesday at midnight in 23 counties across the state, has not yet returned calls for comment from The Clarion-Ledger.

Pierce said his supervisor at the Newton County site called a meeting late Wednesday night to tell employees the bad news.

"She was crying and said that as of midnight we're all unemployed," Pierce said. "Some people are a lot worse off than me. They're just sick. We don't know what we're going to do to make ends meet. We live pay check to pay check."

Pierce has tried to contact Emergystat about the bounced paycheck, but his calls have not been returned from the payroll department.

"It goes straight to voicemail," Pierce said.

The company, which was the sole provider of emergency medical response service in the counties, owes the state $787,715.30 in unpaid income taxes since 2005, said Tax Commission spokeswoman Kathy Waterbury on Friday.

The Tax Commission started to seize Emergystat's assets -- cars, ambulances, equipment and others -- Thursday.

"We're seizing any assets available, but the primary assets are ambulances," Waterbury said. "So we are being very, very cautious that if those ambulances are needed, we are not seizing them. We're working with county authorities in every case."

If counties or their temporary emergency service provider does not need the ambulances or other equipment, then the Tax Commission is seizing it, Waterbury said.

"People all over the state are in charge of particular areas," Waterbury said.

The Tax Commission has been working with Emergystat for some time to resolve its financial problems before the company halted services, Waterbury said.

"We've been working with them on this for awhile," Waterbury said. "We're trying to resolve this. This did not just happen over night."

The next step is for the Tax Commission to post advertisements in newspapers in areas where assets were seized, Waterbury said. The ads will provide the date, time and location of the auction of the seized property, she said.

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