EMT Instructor, Two Paramedics, and Two EMTs Indicted in Connection with Orchestrating Fraudulent EMT Recertification Scheme
"We allege that the conduct of these individuals severely undermined the state's EMT certification process," AG Coakley said. "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, there are three levels of EMTs: Basic, Intermediate, and Paramedic. The Emergency Medical Services statute and accompanying regulations require all EMTs to be licensed. Once initially certified, EMTs are required by the Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) regulations to renew their certificates every two years. To qualify for recertification, individuals holding EMT Basic certification are required during each two-year cycle to complete mandatory continuing education (CE) and a 24-hour refresher course. EMT Paramedics, consistent with their correspondingly greater treatment responsibilities, must complete mandatory CE and a 48-hour refresher course.
Following a months-long investigation authorities allege that in the four years from 2006 to 2009 the EMT instructor and four other individuals charged in this case allowed dozens of EMTs to become improperly recertified by knowingly submitting official attendance rosters that falsely attested they had attended a "refresher." Investigators allegedly discovered that in at least sixteen instances the so-called refresher course was 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.
The investigation remains active and ongoing. In addition, referrals will be made to employers to determine the appropriate course of remedial and disciplinary action to be taken regarding all EMTs who are currently working without being properly certified.
The individuals indicted include:
LEO NAULT, age 50, Concord, NH
Authorities allege that Nault, a paramedic formerly at Trinity Ambulance, in Haverhill, was the central operator of the alleged scheme. Nault sought and received approval from OEMS to teach more than a dozen "refresher" training courses during 2006-2009. Investigators allege that Nault rarely taught the course in full, and sometimes not at all. Authorities allege that Nault conspired with the other defendants to gather EMT signatures on the attendance rosters for the refresher courses, which he then submitted to OEMS falsely certifying more than 200 individuals whose names appeared on those attendance sheets, thus enabling them to qualify for recertification.
Nault is charged with Submitting False Documents to OEMS (16 counts) and Conspiracy to Commit OEMS Violations (3 counts).
VICTOR VALDEZ, age 46, Malden
Valdez worked as an EMT and supervisor at Armstrong Ambulance in Arlington, Massachusetts. Authorities allege that he collected signatures on several of Nault's attendance rosters from multiple EMTs who worked with him, as well as from more than two dozen public safety employees who also participated in the scheme. Valdez allegedly then gave these rosters to Nault. Authorities also allege that Valdez also signed his own name as an attendee on one set of these rosters in order to receive recertification despite not having taken the required refresher course.
Valdez is charged with Aiding and Abetting the Making of False Statements in Documents Submitted to OEMS (5 counts), Violating an OEMS Requirement (1 Count), and Conspiracy to Commit OEMS Violations (2 counts).
TONIA SCHOFIELD, age 52, Billerica
Schofield worked as a paramedic at Cataldo Ambulance, which is headquartered in Somerville. She allegedly collected multiple colleagues' signatures on Nault's attendance rosters so that they could receive refresher credit without attending the class. Investigators allege that Schofield also failed to take the required refresher course herself during the 2006-2007 period, but instead signed her name as an attendee on a set of Nault rosters.
Schofield is charged with Aiding and Abetting the Making of False Statements in Documents Submitted to OEMS (4 counts), Violating an OEMS Requirement, and Conspiracy to Commit OEMS Violations.
JEFFREY GIVEN, age 41, Haverhill
Given worked as a paramedic at Trinity Ambulance in Haverhill and was also a Haverhill firefighter. Investigators allege that Given collected signatures from fellow firefighters on several of Nault's rosters. These "refresher" courses were either not taught by Nault, or taught but not attended by the firefighters. Authorities allege that Given also signed false rosters for his own benefit.
Given is charged with Aiding and Abetting the Making of False Statements in Documents Submitted to OEMS (4 counts), Violating an OEMS Requirement, and Conspiracy to Commit OEMS Violations.
TELLY CORDOVA, age 37, Brighton
Cordova is an EMT and a Boston firefighter. Investigators discovered that Cordova allegedly arranged for approximately two dozen fellow firefighters to get their names placed on Nault refresher attendance rosters without their having to attend the classes.
Cordova is charged with Violating /Aiding and Abetting Others to Violate OEMS Requirements, and Conspiracy to Commit OEMS Violations.
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.
A Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against all five defendants on November 10, 2010. They will be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court at a later date.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Molly Parks and Marina Moriarty, both of AG Coakley's Corruption and Fraud Division. It was investigated by the Division's Deputy Chief, Paul Stewart, other investigators within the Division, and Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General's Office.