Everett Fire’s problems bigger than billing

EVERETT — KIRO TV on Monday aired a heavily promoted story that suggested fraud in Everett Fire Department ambulance billings.

The villain in this particular tale, according to the Seattle TV station, is David “Pete” Vier, the city’s former director of emergency medical services.

Readers of The Daily Herald may recall Vier being arrested and charged with a sex crime. He’s now awaiting trial for allegedly attempting online to arrange sex with a teenage girl who turned out to be a Seattle police detective.

Vier retired after his arrest, and Herald reporter Rikki King used public records to uncover a string of trouble, including allegations of domestic violence, stalking and erratic behavior that got him banned from a local hospital and the city of Edmonds.

“The arrest,” King wrote in December, “wasn’t the first time that David Peter “Pete” Vier, 60, had been accused of misconduct. Or the second time. Or the third.”

The records King earlier reviewed about Vier made reference to questions about ambulance billings and allegations that at least one former co-worker had made regarding fraud. The records also cast doubt on the veracity of those claims.

The city on Monday released paperwork about a 2012 audit that was performed regarding the ambulance billings.

The audit “was a proactive measure that identified some minor issues, since corrected by the department, but also generally exonerated the city and showed that no Medicare fraud was occurring,” city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said.

Some have written today to ask when The Daily Herald will publish its own story regarding KIRO’s conclusions. The simple answer is we aren’t done reporting and writing about Vier or the problems his case has highlighted within the Everett Fire Department.

The larger question is how Vier rose to one of the highest ranks within the department, and remained there for years, despite repeated red flags. The Herald wrote in December that Fire Chief Murray Gordon has proposed stricter, recurring background checks for employees to weed out problems earlier. And yes, there are problems.

Vier’s issues in his professional life and private life weren’t a secret before and certainly aren’t now.

His career in public service left a mess that is going to take more than one story to unravel.

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