Jefferson Township Ambulance Audit Questioned

JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP -- The state is now calling on law enforcement in our area to check on possible misuse of money at an ambulance association.

The volunteers who operate the ambulance service in Lackawanna County say, even though a state audit showed some red flags, they did not do anything illegal.

Ambulance volunteers in Jefferson Township told us that they are addressing that state audit. Much of the ambulance association's business is managed by members of the same family. That's one of the reasons why the state auditor general thinks something criminal might be going on here.

Jefferson Township's ambulances sit parked in a garage near Mount Cobb while officials at the state level question the volunteers who run the ambulance association.

The state auditor general has called on the Lackawanna County district attorney to investigate after a routine audit raised when he called some red flags.

Those flags include $30,000 that the auditor general says is unaccounted for and that most of the association's business is handled by one family -- the Dennis family from Wayne County.

We were able to speak to members of the Dennis family off camera. They contend that the ambulance association did nothing wrong. They've spent the past few days going through all of their financial records, and plan to make a statement once they're finished.

The Dennis family also says it handles most of the business because the ambulance association is short on volunteers.

The Jefferson Township Ambulance Association is supported by some state taxpayer money and by donations from residents.

"A lot of people are out there, that are hard working men and women, contributing money to this, to making sure that there's people out there who are getting the help that they need. They're doing it for a good reason. If someone's doing something wrong, it needs to be investigated," said Jefferson Township resident Sandra Russell.

Most of the people we talked to say the state's audit shows the system of checks and balances is working.

"I do want this investigated because it should be, it's not correct, you know?" said Jamie Smith of Jefferson Township.

"Oh, I'm encouraged," said Ronald Cooke. "I think it needs to be checked into and I think they need to go a little deeper, check out the sewer department, find out what's going on there."

The ambulance volunteers we talked to say they hope to clear up any discrepancies before it becomes a criminal investigation. There is no word on whether such an investigation has begun.

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