September 15, 2020
By News Director Jared Atha
Details of a state audit revealed recently that the Greer County Special Ambulance District made questionable credit card and cellphone purchases and engaged in illegal deficit spending.
According to the report filed by State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd, an ambulance district credit card was used to buy jewelry, baseball-related items and phone accessories from Amazon.com that were delivered to the home address of Scott Augustine, who was the district’s administrator at the time.
The report also questioned cellphone purchase orders that total at just over $2,600 saying the documentation on the cellphone statements indicated that the purchases were made for family members of the administrator.
Byrd’s report also revealed the purchase of jewelry, phone accessories, and the payment of late fees on seven different credit cards.
Landon Brooks, who is the current chairman of the board for the ambulance district, told The Oklahoman newspaper that Augustine has been relieved from his position as district administrator but remains employed by the district as an emergency medical technician.
Brooks also issued a response to Byrd’s office saying the district began to uncover the questionable spending about a month before the audit. He said that the credit card account has been closed and a structured monthly payment system has been set up to pay off the debt.
Loans and payroll issues were also discovered in the audit.
Byrd’s report criticized the district for incurring debt by taking out three loans and having a negative cash balance of just over $57,000 at the end of fiscal year 2018. According to the audit, those actions violated state law and the Oklahoma Constitution because bond issues approved by a majority vote of the people are the only lawful way an emergency medical service can incur debt.
The audit also revealed that the ambulance district is delinquent in paying some employees and in paying payroll withholding taxes.
Brooks responded by saying the district is addressing the delinquent payroll owed to employees, and that employees are updated on the status of the payroll issues.
Byrd says a copy of the audit has been sent to the offices of Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter and to the Greer County District Attorney’s Office for possible legal action.