Ambulance company refunds tax dollars following Channel 2 investigation

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - Cypress Creek EMS has refunded $38,317.39 in property tax dollars following a Channel 2 Investigation.

The tax money will not be divided and forwarded to homeowners, however. Instead, it will remain in the coffers of the taxing entity, ESD #11.

Cypress Creek EMS has also contacted the Harris County Sheriff’s Office to launch a criminal investigation.

In February, Channel 2 Investigates uncovered that a Cypress Creek EMS Administrator, Tony Ghourley, accepted cash to work on private cars in the Cypress Creek EMS Garage. Our investigation also found that other employees were also privy to the scheme to defraud taxpayers.

READ: Cypress Creek EMS: Taxpayer-funded employees pocketing cash

“We have no idea how the information got to Channel 2,” Cypress Creek EMS attorney, Andrew McKinney, said during an ESD #11 board meeting.

The employees were on the clock and their salaries are paid with property tax dollars.

The Channel 2 Investigation also found that parts for various cars, not in the Cypress Creek EMS vehicle inventory, were charged to the Cypress Creek EMS account.

It is unclear from the paperwork obtained by Channel 2 Investigates who ultimately paid the bill for those parts.

Cypress Creek EMS declined to share details of an internal investigation following the KPRC story.

The $38,317.39 refund to ESD #11 represents the cost of salaries and employee insurance, although the number of employees the refund encompasses was not disclosed publicly.

Ghourley no longer works for Cypress Creek EMS. It is unclear if other employees were fired as a result of a Cypress Creek EMS internal investigation, following the Channel 2 Investigation.

“In the course of our investigation and in the interest of full disclosure we also found some internal control issues at Cypress Creek EMS. I’m not going to go into the details of those internal control issues because, last week, in addition to the investigation, we have asked the Harris County Sheriff’s Department to open a criminal investigation into certain findings made over the course of the investigation,” McKinney said.

Brad England, longtime Cypress Creek EMS director, again declined our request for an on-camera interview.

“We have a public information officer that does that,” England said.

“We've taken very swift and very direct action, but there’s still some things ongoing, we just can't comment,” Norm Uhl, Cypress Creek EMS public information officer, said.

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