Former Hamilton Police Chief and Three Others Arraigned in EMT Training Scandal
The former Chief and Selectman allegedly obtained their EMT recertification from the Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) by receiving credit for attending classes that were either never held or at which they were not present. The OEMS recertification was based on alleged falsified training attendance rosters that were submitted to OEMS. Two of the men were also indicted for allegedly lying in an attempt to cover-up the fact that training credits had been awarded for classes that were never held.
Walter Cullen, age 64, of Hamilton, James Foley, age 48, of Ipswich, Henry Michalski, Jr., age 61, of Middleton, and David Mastrianni, age 45, of Hamilton, are all charged as follows:
Walter D. Cullen (Former Police Chief, HPD)
- EMS Violation (2 counts)
- Procurement Fraud
- Larceny Over $250
James Foley (Former Lieutenant, WPD)
- EMS Violation
- Attempted Obstruction of Justice
Henry Michalski, Jr. (Training Coordinator, Lyons Ambulance)
- EMS Violation (6 counts)
- Attempted Obstruction of Justice (2 counts)
David J. Mastrianni (Training Instructor, HPD)
- EMS Violation (4 counts)
- False Written Report (2 counts)
The Emergency Medical Services statute and accompanying regulations require EMTs in Massachusetts to be licensed. Once initially certified, EMTs are required by OEMS regulations to renew their certificates every two years. To qualify for recertification, EMTs are required during each two-year cycle to complete a 24-hour refresher course (refresher) and 28 hours of continuing education (CE).
The refresher course is based on a national standard curriculum developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is divided into six modules that cover the following areas of basic patient medical care:
(1) Preparatory (including scene safety, lifting and moving patients, consent, refusal);
(2) Airway (including opening the airway, suctioning, resuscitation techniques);
(3) Patient assessment (including initial assessment, patient history, physical exam);
(4) medical/behavioral (including general pharmacology, breathing difficulty, cardiac, diabetic, allergic, poisoning/overdose and behavioral emergencies);
(5) Trauma (including shock, wounds, burns, bone/joint injuries, and head/spine injuries);
(6) Obstetrics, infants and children.
Continuing education classes provide additional supplemental training and education to help EMTs stay current with the constant growth and development in the field of emergency medical care, including courses on things like recreational drugs, mass casualty training, incident command training, OSHA update, and HIPAA privacy training. The training requirements must be completed by December 31 st of the second year of the two-year cycle.
Until late September 2008, HPD ran the Town of Hamilton Ambulance Service. Accordingly, the Town required all full-time and reserve officers to be certified as EMTs. Mastrianni, a reserve HPD officer and full-time paramedic at Lyons Ambulance, as well as Chief Cullen's son-in-law, taught the required refresher and continuing education courses at HPD for many years. Most of the course attendees were HPD officers; however, there were occasions where officers from other departments attended the courses.
In July, 2008, OEMS received a complaint alleging that over a number of years, Matrianni had allowed Hamilton officers to sign EMT attendance rosters without attending the training sessions. The complaint specifically alleged that the 2006-2007 supplemental training programs were never held and that certified EMTs falsely signed attendance rosters in order to maintain their EMT-Basic certification status.
The OEMS investigation focused on the classes purportedly taught by Mastrianni in 2006-2007. The investigation included a review of EMT certification documents and interviews of 25 people. Many of the officers interviewed readily admitted to OEMS investigators that Mastrianni had allowed them to sign attendance rosters for classes that were never held, including CE courses scheduled in November 2006, a refresher scheduled in December 2006, and more CE courses scheduled in November-December 2007. In other instances, Matrianni held the courses but allowed officers to sign official rosters without attending.
The OEMS investigation concluded that there were a number of officers who falsely signed one or more of the rosters, but that these officers completed legitimate classes outside of the HPD and thus still had the proper amount of credit for a valid recertification. However, there were an additional 12 officers who did not have enough credit exclusive of the false HPD hours, including four Danvers police officers, and that these officers obtained recertification based solely on falsified attendance rosters. Two of the 12 officers were still within their two-year training window and made-up the necessary classes. The EMT licenses of the other 10, including Chief Cullen, were suspended, and OEMS referred the matter to the Attorney General's Office for further investigation.
The Attorney General's Office began its criminal investigation in December, 2008. During the investigation, the nine line officers whose EMT-Basic licenses had been suspended entered into agreements with their respective towns and the Attorney General's Office to accept administrative punishment in lieu of criminal prosecution. Hamilton police officers Arthur Hatfield, Michael Marchand, Kent Richards, Karen Wallace and Stephen Walsh, and Danvers police officers Michael Bean, Scott Frost, Dana Martin, and Robert Sullivan are required within the next two years to: (1) make full restitution to their respective towns for EMT pay received during the period they were falsely certified; (2) pay the Town an additional $5,000; (3) accept an unpaid suspension of thirty (30) eight-hour shifts, and (4) agree to work without pay for thirty (30) eight-hour shifts of punishment duty.
Unlike the above-referenced officers, Chief Cullen told OEMS investigators that he didn't know about the hours he had been credited by Mastrianni in 2006, and that he had no need for those hours because he had taken a 24-hour refresher course at the Essex Fire Department (Essex refresher) in November 2006. OEMS records show that Cullen received an additional 24-hours of CE courses exclusive of the Mastrianni courses that were never held.
Criminal prosecutors allege that Cullen and Foley received credits for the Essex refresher even though that refresher class was never held. In addition, prosecutors allege that all or a portion of the additional 24 hours of CE were either never held or held but not attended by Cullen. Michalski, the training coordinator for Lyons Ambulance, allegedly knowingly allowed Cullen's name, as well as the names of others including Foley, to be placed on multiple rosters notwithstanding that the trainings were either never held or never attended by those whose names appeared on the rosters.
It is further alleged that, during the criminal investigation, Michalski and Foley both lied in an attempt to cover-up the fact that the Essex refresher was never held. Michalski also communicated with other witnesses who had received credit for the bogus Essex refresher, and those witnesses initially also lied to investigators. As a result of their conduct, both Michalski and Foley were additionally charged in connection with attempting to obstruct justice.
Based on the allegedly false training credits received from Mastrianni and Michalski, Cullen was recertified as an EMT-Basic in April, 2008. He thereafter fraudulently used his status as a certified EMT to get extra salary benefits in a new contract signed in June 2008.
On July 31, 2009, an Essex County Grand Jury returned indictments against all four defendants. Today, the men were arraigned in Essex Superior Court in Salem where they plead not guilty and were released on personal recognizance. They are due back in court on September 24, 2009, for a pre-trial conference.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Margaret Parks, Jennifer Stark, and James O'Brien of Attorney General Martha Coakley's Corruption and Fraud Division, with assistance from Financial Investigators Paul Stewart and Jim McFadden, and members of the Attorney General's Massachusetts State Police Unit. OEMS has assisted throughout the investigation.