Former EMT Instructor and Four Executives of Local Ambulance Company Indicted in Connection with Fraudulent EMT Recertification Scheme
Thomas Codair, Sr., age 49, of Cambridge, an EMT instructor who taught refresher training courses to police officers and firefighters, is charged with OEMS Violation [False Statements in Documents/Aiding and Abetting Others to Evade OEMS Requirements] (4 counts) and Conspiracy to Commit OEMS Violation (3 counts).
Indictments were also returned against the top four executives of a local ambulance company for their roles in taking advantage of Codair's scheme. Codair's co-defendants are Brian Connor, age 49, of Arlington; Jonathan Kulis, age 37, of Wilmington; Michael McPherson age 38, of Billerica; and Brian O'Connor age 39, of Woburn. These co-defendants are the President/CEO, Chief Operating Officer, and Vice Presidents, respectively, of LifeLine Ambulance in Woburn. The men are each charged with OEMS Violation [False Statements to OEMS/Evade OEMS Requirements] and Conspiracy to Commit OEMS Violation.
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.
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.
The second phase of the AG's investigation resulted in the indictment of five people: EMT instructor Leo Nault, two paramedics, and two EMTs for their roles in a similar fraudulent scheme. This case is ongoing.
In this next phase of the investigation, authorities discovered another widespread scheme to fraudulently recertify EMTs without their having completed the required refresher course. Investigators allege that Codair was the central figure in this scheme. Codair was an EMT formerly at Armstrong Ambulance and he taught four refresher training courses during the period of 2006 through 2009. Codair held the courses at the Medford Police Training Academy, and authorities allege that for these particular courses, Codair permitted EMTs to sign course rosters without attending the course. Codair then allegedly submitted the rosters to OEMS, falsely certifying all signers' attendance at those courses, thus enabling the signers to qualify for recertification.
Authorities also allege that Connor, Kulis, McPherson and O'Connor each signed attendance rosters for a 2007 refresher course without having attended any of the classes. Codair then allegedly submitted the rosters to OEMS for credit. The four men each relied on OEMS granting them credit for having attended the 2007 refresher in applying for, and obtaining EMT recertification.
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:
- Preparatory (including scene safety, lifting and moving patients, consent, refusal);
- Airway (including opening the airway, suctioning, resuscitation techniques);
- Patient assessment (including initial assessment, patient history, physical exam);
- medical/behavioral (including general pharmacology, breathing difficulty, cardiac, diabetic, allergic, poisoning/overdose and behavioral emergencies);
- Trauma (including shock, wounds, burns, bone/joint injuries, and head/spine injuries);
- 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 that focus on 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 April 28, 2011. They will be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court at a later date.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Marina Moriarty of AG Coakley's Public Integrity Division, and Assistant Attorney General Dave Andrews, Chief of AG Coakley's Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division. It was investigated by Paul Stewart, Chief of AG Coakley's Financial Investigations Division and Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General's Office. Ashley Cinelli is the Victim Witness Advocate on the case.
The Public Integrity Division investigates and prosecutes serious criminal misconduct involving (a) crimes committed against or upon public agencies, (b) corrupt public employees and public entities who engage in or conspire to commit larceny, fraud, bribery, gratuities, and other crimes in which there is a hidden personal financial interest, and (c) crimes that have a corrosive or harmful effect on public confidence in our government and other trusted institutions, including such crimes as perjury and obstruction of justice. The Division's most significant cases are those that have an impact beyond the facts of the individual case, that involve particularly vulnerable victims, or that assist in restoring trust and confidence in our public institutions.