KIOWA COUNTY, Okla. – The former director of an ambulance service in Kiowa County is accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from that service.
Investigators say 44-year-old Joell Brittain took the money from 2005 until 2007. They have issued a warrant for her arrest on one count of embezzlement and expect her to turn herself in, but at this point, they are not sure where she is.
District Attorney John Wampler says that several ambulance board members noticed financial inconsistencies such as just how much Brittain was paying herself to be director; double what the previous director got.
None of those board members would talk on camera because they say they could be called to testify at some point, but they say some of the signs were obvious. Wampler says the board members first brought the problems to his attention in 2007 shortly before Brittain left the job.
“There were instances where insurance premiums were being paid out of EMS funds on behalf of her son, which was not authorized by the board,” said Wampler. “There were hours she was claiming she worked, which the records do not support. There were instances of days where she was claiming in excess of 24 hours a day she worked.”
Wampler says that once those problems were brought to his attention they started an investigation.
“We asked the state auditors office to come in and conduct an audit and then at some point while that was going on we also asked the OSBI to do a criminal investigation,” said Wampler.
Those investigations found there was somewhere between $1,000 and $25,000 missing. Money that Wampler believes they have a good chance of getting back.
“Over the course of the last several years, part as the economy has soured we’ve had a number of embezzlement cases throughout my district and we’ve been pretty lucky in getting rest paid back.”
Wampler says Brittain actually started working for the ambulance service in 1998, but they only did an audit from 2005 to 2007 to avoid statute of limitation problems.