EMT Instructor Pleads Guilty, Sentenced for Orchestrating Fraudulent EMT Recertification Scheme
Leo Nault, age 51, of Concord, New Hampshire, pled guilty to 16 separate charges of emergency services violations and three indictments charging conspiracy. Following the change of plea, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Charles Hely imposed a two-and-a-half year suspended House of Correction sentence with probation for one year, and ordered Nault to pay fines totaling $16,000.
"Nault undermined the state's EMT certification process, and in doing so, put the public's safety and health at risk," AG Coakley said. "Proper certification ensures that emergency medical personnel are properly trained and up-to-date with the medical skills necessary for emergency treatment and our office will continue to investigate and prosecute those who violate the law."
Several co-defendants have also been charged in connection with this case. On November 15, 2010, indictments were returned against Victor Valdez, age 46, of Malden, Tonia Schofield, age 52, of Billerica, and Jeffrey Given, age 41, of Haverhill, for their alleged role in this scheme. These co-defendants were arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on November 29, 2010, where they pled not guilty and were released on personal recognizance.
Nault, a paramedic formerly at Trinity Ambulance in Haverhill, was the central figure in the alleged scheme. Nault sought and received approval from Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) to teach 18 "refresher" training courses during 2006-2009. Nault rarely taught the courses in full and sometimes not at all. 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 that more than 200 individuals had completed the courses, thus enabling them to qualify for recertification.
Following a months-long investigation authorities determined that in the four years from 2006 to 2009 Nault, assisted by three 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 discovered that in 16 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.
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 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.
In December 2008, the Attorney General's Office began the first phase of its investigation into fraudulent EMT recertification. That investigation culminated with the indictments of the former Police Chief of the Hamilton Police Department (HPD); a former Wenham Police Department Lieutenant and Ipswich Selectman; the training coordinator for the Danvers-based Lyons Ambulance Service (Lyons), who is the retired Fire Chief of Middleton and Ipswich, and; a former reserve police office from HPD who conducted Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training. The two instructors in that case, Henry Michalski, Jr. and David Mastrianni, have since pled guilty.
On April 28, 2011, a Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against five individuals for their roles in a similar fraudulent scheme.
A Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against Nault and his co-defendants on November 10, 2010. Nault was arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on January 20, 2011, where he pled not guilty and was released on personal recognizance. Nault pled guilty on May 17, 2011 and was sentenced and ordered to pay fines for the EMS violations.
The case was being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Marina Moriarty and Molly Parks of AG Coakley's Criminal Bureau. It was investigated by Paul Stewart, Chief of AG Coakley's Financial Investigations Division, and other investigators within the Division, and Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General's Office. Ashley Cinelli is the Victim Witness Advocate on the case.