07/20/06 — Johnston Ambulance Service could sue in Duplin EMS case

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Johnston Ambulance Service could sue in Duplin EMS case

By Turner Walston
Published in News on July 20, 2006 1:52 PM

An attorney for Johnston Ambulance Service said he will wait to hear the results of an internal Duplin County investigation before deciding on civil action in a case involving the county's ambulance service contract.

On Monday, former Duplin County Emergency Medical Services Director Curtis Brock and former employee Barbara Coman were charged with two misdemeanors -- illegally accessing the Johnston Ambulance Service computers and computer trespassing against the company. The criminal charges came after months of investigation by District Attorney Dewey Hudson's office and the State Bureau of Investigation.

The two are accused of accessing Johnston Ambu-lance Service (JAS) records to get addresses and other information to use in contract negotiations regarding the county's emergency services contract.

Ms. Coman was a former employee of JAS.

But JAS could file its own suit against Brock and Ms. Coman or Duplin County.

"The criminal charges are separate from a civil action," Johnston attorney Charles Ellis said. "The charges against Mr. Brock and Barbara Coman simply confirmed what our investigation had revealed, and confirmed what we already knew, really."

In May, Ellis met with Duplin County Attorney Wendy Sivori to discuss the case.

"At that point, we suggested to her strongly that the folks involved ought to be dismissed, and that this matter ought to be thoroughly investigated, to see exactly how deep the hole went," he said. "Who else was involved, what was done with the information, what was the motivation behind this, what other employees or folks with Duplin County knew about it or had something to do with it?"

Raleigh attorney Doug Kenyon was hired to conduct the county's internal investigation. Kenyon said through an assistant that he is not in a position to comment on the matter at this point.

Ellis said he expects the investigation to be wrapped up soon.

"(Kenyon) advised us that we should be hearing something in the next week," he said.

Ellis said any action that would be taken by JAS would not hinge on the results of the SBI investigation.

"We're pleased with the work done by the District Attorney, that they've investigated it," Ellis said. "But that doesn't drive Johnston Ambulance Service's decision, one way or the other."