Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 2020-09-14 03:00:52 –
A whistleblower’s assessment of past misdeeds could be worth more than $16 million to EMSA, Oklahoma City’s public ambulance service.
Stephen Dean filed a lawsuit in 2014 alleging kickbacks were paid by an east Texas company, Paramedics Plus, to retain its EMSA contract for ambulance drivers, paramedics and emergency medical technicians.
Paramedics Plus held the contract between 1998 and 2013. Dean was the former chief operating officer for Paramedics Plus.
After federal prosecutors intervened and the case was settled in 2018, Dean said he believed the settlement ensured that contracts between EMSA and its vendors would “no longer include verbal ‘side deals’ between agency administrators and contracted companies.”
Fast forward to last week, when EMSA filed suit in federal court in Tulsa seeking more than $16 million from Paramedics Plus’ successor in the contract, American Medical Response. EMSA awarded the contract to AMR in 2013 and renewed it two years ago.
According to the lawsuit, this time there were no “verbal side deals” like the slush fund engineered by former EMSA President and CEO H. Stephen Williamson, who resigned under a cloud in 2017 and died a little more than a year later.
EMSA’s attorney writes that AMR’s annual profit, by contract, is capped at 10%. Proceeds beyond AMR’s costs and profit must be returned to EMSA for ambulances and medical equipment, and to keep costs down for patients and taxpayers.
Practices that led to the Paramedics Plus litigation included diversion of excess profits for cash payments and political contributions. Federal authorities said Medicare and Medicaid funds were misappropriated, while Williamson denied wrongdoing.