Exclusive: Memos show officials told about Medstar mess 6 months ago
Whistleblower plans to sue the county for retaliation
LEE COUNTY - More fallout surrounding Lee County's Medstar fiasco. Tonight, Fox 4 has obtained internal memos showing county officials were told about problems with the medical helicopter six months ago but failed to do anything about it. Now the whistleblower is planning to sue the county, claiming the county retaliated against him. Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason has a story you will only see on Fox 4.
These are the memos that prove county officials were notified about possible Federal violations with Medstar. But, instead of investigating the violations, the whistleblower says county officials retaliated against him.
Lee County EMS workers attended today's county commission meeting expecting to find out when Medstar would be up and running....but County Manager Karen Hawes is keeping tight lipped.
Mike Mason: "So you can't tell us simply....”
Karen Hawes: "No, not right now."
The pilot who blew the whistle on the Medstar mess says he's tired of waiting for answers and now he's taking action.
Arnold "Mac" McAllister: "I've been trying to avoid a lawsuit now for the past several months but it looks like I'm not going to have much of a choice."
Arnold McAllister - or “Mac” - says the county "eliminated" his position after he exposed how his bosses were violating Federal regulations. Fox 4 obtained internal memos showing Mac notified county officials about Medstar's problems 6 months ago. He says if the County Manager had done something about it then, Medstar would never have been grounded.
Arnold "Mac" McAllister:: "It's definitely a cover up, it's a scandal, it's a dee-zaster as Frank Mann calls it. It's all of those things and they're just hoping to wait it out."
Back in March, Mac sent a memo to his Director of Operations, Rob Fulton, notifying him of possible FAA violations. A month later, Mac took his concerns to top officials including Public Safety Director John Wilson. Mac states, "I am sending you notification of what I believe are possible FAA violations."
Mac goes on to say; "Rob Fulton recently conducted flight training but Fulton is not currently an approved company instructor....I am giving you all notice of this and I am asking you to self-report to the FAA......this self-reporting will possibly allow the county to avoid incurring potentially tens of thousands of dollars in fines."
Arnold "Mac" McAllister: "I got forced into a position where I had to report these things, that's my certificate on the line, not the county's."
The next day, Wilson responded to Mac's memo saying; "I have notified County Management and the County Attorney's office of your intentions. If you still wish to report these possible violations to the FAA then by all means do so."
So Mac did file a complaint with the FAA and he says that's when the county placed him on administrative leave.
Arnold "Mac" McAllister: "They said they didn't feel they had the right mix, well the right mix in their estimation is they didn't have a bunch of ‘yes men’ who would go along with what they were doing, which was illegal."
We wanted to ask County Manager, Karen Hawes about Mac's claims but she's not talking.
Karen Hawes: I'll have a report out by tomorrow for the Board."
Karen Hawes says she will update commissioners about Medstar tomorrow but she won't answer direct questions from the media.