Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11 has filed a counterclaim against Cypress Creek Emergency Medical Services, according to the district’s special counsel, Brian Trachtenberg.
Trachtenberg said the district filed the counterclaim Jan. 21. According to the counterclaim, the district is suing the EMS for about $20 million in “missing and stolen taxpayer funds.” The district points to alleged overbilling and unaccounted funds cited in an audit from PKF Texas, which showed evidence of employees being coded as under different departments on payroll, unequal payroll allocations from ESD No. 11, inefficiencies in CCEMS’ operations when compared to competitors, billing anomalies such as overpayments and overrefunds, and about $10 million in unaccounted funds.
“CCEMS cannot get away with this scheme to line its coffers just months before its contract with the District is set to terminate and its public funding is cut off for good,” the claim said. “Therefore, the District brings these counterclaims to put an end to CCEMS’s abuse of its taxpayers’ money.”
CCEMS CEO Wren Nealy has said the audit was limited and that many of the issues it found could have been answered if CCEMS had been asked to help. In a Jan. 22 press release, Nealy criticized the counterclaim as a misuse of taxpayer funds.
“We still have not been given the [PFK audit] report, nor have we been given the opportunity to answer any of the questions raised by the auditor that have simple explanations,” Nealy said. “It is blatantly obvious to us that regardless of the outcome of this PKF audit, commissioners were going to find any excuse to spend more taxpayer dollars suing us, a non-profit entity, beyond the millions they have already spent to needlessly stand up their own 911 service.”
CCEMS originally filed suit against the district when the commissioners voted to withhold 30% of CCEMS’ monthly payments for not complying with district orders and outstanding employee insurance payments. A judge ruled the district may not withhold payments Nov. 30.