A Concord man has been indicted as the ringleader of a scheme that investigators say falsely re-certified hundreds of emergency medical technicians in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Leo Nault, 50, was indicted by a grand jury in Massachusetts for offering 16 refresher courses between 2006 and 2009 during which he "rarely taught the course in full, and sometimes not at all," according to the Massachusetts attorney general's office.
A voicemail message left at Nault's home on Josiah Bartlett Road was not returned yesterday. Nault, described as the central operator of the scheme, was indicted along with four men from Massachusetts who allegedly helped him collect signatures from EMTs seeking re- certification.
"We allege that the conduct of these individuals severely undermined the state's EMT certification process," Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a statement. "The certification process is designed to ensure that emergency medical personnel are properly trained and kept up-to-date with the constantly evolving medical skills necessary for emergency treatment. These acts posed a risk to public safety and public health and our office is continuing our probe into this matter."
In Massachusetts and New Hampshire, EMTs are required to renew their certificates every two years by paying to take refresher courses taught by state-approved instructors such as Nault. Nault submitted rosters of EMTs he claimed to have retrained, but in fact the classes were "either not held at all, or held but not in full, or attended by only a portion of the EMTs whose names appeared on the rosters," according to Massachusetts authorities.
More than 200 EMTs in Massachusetts were falsely added to attendance rosters that Nault turned in to the state's Office of Emergency Medical Services, authorities said.
In New Hampshire, investigators have identified 81 EMTs in the state suspected of being falsely re-certified by Nault. So far, 39 have had their licenses suspended for at least one year after being accused of fraud, said Jim Van Dongen, spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Safety.
Nault's alleged scheme was initially discovered in May by officials at Trinity Ambulance in Haverhill, Mass., where he worked as a paramedic, Trinity spokesman Chris Dick said. In response to prior cases of re-certification fraud, the company began checking out its employees' certificates and Nault's name kept coming up, Dick said.
After Trinity reported its concerns to Massachusetts authorities, Nault was one of 31 employees fired by the company in June. Nault had been on disability leave for about a year and a half before his firing, Dick said.
"We cut ties with him as fast as we could," Dick said.
Clay Odell, chief of the New Hampshire Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, said most of the New Hampshire EMTs alleged to have been falsely re-certified by Nault are from Rockingham County and along the state's southern tier. State privacy laws prevent Odell from releasing the names of the EMTs suspended or under investigation unless they choose to have their cases presented in a public hearing, he said.
Odell said New Hampshire investigators looked into 20 courses taught by Nault that listed attendance by New Hampshire residents. Nault reported that 11 of the courses were taught in New Hampshire and nine in Massachusetts, Odell said.
Van Dongen said with about 4,600 EMTs across the state, the potential loss of 81 workers will have a relatively small impact. Odell said no communities in the Concord area would be significantly affected by the license suspensions.
"You're going to have close to 80 people who are out of circulation in the areas that they serve . . . but the view of the department is that public safety is not going to be affected by this," Van Dongen said.