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Firefighter in EMT Scandal Has Day in Court

Firefighter in EMT Scandal Has Day in Court

The Eagle-Tribune

May 28, 2011

HAVERHILL — The man accused of helping his fellow Haverhill firefighters lie about receiving mandatory EMT training may learn his fate today in Suffolk Superior Court.

Former Firefighter Jeffrey Given, 41, is charged with four counts of aiding and abetting the making of false statements in documents to the state Office of Emergency Medical Services, violating state emergency medical requirements, and conspiracy to commit emergency medical services violations.

According to the state’s case, Given visited Haverhill fire stations to collect money and firefighters’ signatures on training attendance rosters. He then went to a downtown parking lot and passed the documents and cash to Leo Nault, who was supposed to teach the courses, investigators said. They said the courses never took place.

Mayor James Fiorentini fired Given in mid-September, following a public hearing at City Hall at which Given declined to testify. In his ruling, Fiorentini called Given the “facilitator” and “bagman” in a scheme that allowed the emergency medical technicians to lie about their training.

Investigators said Nault was the central architect in the statewide EMT training scandal that scandalized the city’s Fire Department for two years. He has pleaded guilty to three charges of conspiracy and 16 violations of emergency services regulations.

Nault, 51, formerly a paramedic at Trinity Ambulance in Haverhill, was sentenced late last week to one year of probation and fined $16,000 by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Charles Hely.

In February, 27 Haverhill firefighters implicated in the scheme accepted punishment handed down by the mayor and fire Chief Richard Borden to save their jobs. The firefighters admitted they engaged in “wrongful conduct” and agreed to serve unpaid suspensions and work hundreds of hours for free over the next several years.

In addition to Given, the only other firefighter to lose his job was Lt. Alexander Fredette, who declined the city’s punishment offer. His appeal is pending with the state Civil Service Commission.

The scheme created by Nault, a resident of Concord, N.H., and other Massachusetts EMT instructors involved the creation of fraudulent training records for more than 200 EMT workers across the state who never completed required courses, state officials said.

Nault sought and received approval from the Office of Emergency Medical Services to teach 18 “refresher” training courses from 2006 to 2009, according to a press release from Attorney General Martha Coakley, whose office is prosecuting the case.

Nault rarely taught the courses in full and sometimes not at all, and only a portion of the enrollees actually attended his courses, the release said.

Several other codefendants have pleaded not guilty and have court dates coming up in June.

In Massachusetts, there are three levels of EMTs: Basic, intermediate and paramedic. The Emergency Medical Services law and state regulations require all EMTs to be licensed.

Once initially certified, EMTs are required 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 continuing education courses and either a 24-hour refresher course or a 48-hour refresher, depending on their EMT level.

In Haverhill, firefighters receive an extra $1,800 per year to be EMTs and $3,100 extra to be paramedics.

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