CEDAR CITY – The Iron County Commission voted Monday to give Gold Cross Ambulance nearly $1,250 to settle up the cost of several items that were allegedly missing at the close of the ambulance sale last year.
The check for $1,231 covered the price of multiple items not transferred to the new provider in the process of the service switching hands at the transaction’s closing in 2015.
The agreement between the county and Gold Cross dictated that all real property assets would be part of the sale to the private company, said Commissioner Dale Brinkerhoff.
The items included several sets of binoculars, ammunition, back massagers, gun cases and gun holsters. They were purchased by former Lt. Jody Edwards over the two years he ran the ambulance department while it was under the management of the Iron County Sheriff’s Office.
Prior to the sale of the ambulance service in 2015, commissioners sent in officials from the human resource department, auditor’s office and the county attorney’s office to conduct an inventory of the assets.
The items in question were reportedly never located during that inventory, Brinkerhoff said. It was later found that before Edwards was terminated in May 2015, he had given Sheriff Mark Gower several of the items.
Four binoculars valued at $229 each and one massager totaling an estimated $135 were not in the list of items Edwards handed over to Gower and allegedly could not be located on site.
The sheriff said his former lieutenant told him he had left those items at the ambulance station.
“According to Lt. Edwards the items were in the trucks and his office,” Gower said. “I was never invited to participate in that inventory so there is no way for me to know for sure whether that stuff was or wasn’t there. Jody said it was there when he left and I trust and believe him that it was.”
Edwards conducted an inventory prior to his termination on the orders of then Commissioner Dave Miller. At that time, the former lieutenant said all of the items were accounted for and listed in the record of assets. The list was discussed during a public county commission meeting in December 2014.
There were several attempts over the last year to locate and transfer all of the items to Gold Cross. However, there were issues in coordinating the efforts between the sheriff’s office and Gold Cross owners.
Ultimately, only seven of the 11 binoculars ever made it into the hands of CEO and chairman of Gold Cross, Gene Moffitt — four of them were part of the missing items that were not located during the inventory check.
The state Attorney General’s Office investigated Edwards last year for misuse of public monies. The request for the investigation, made by the county commissioners and the county attorney, surrounded the missing items as well as questions about Edwards’ authority to purchase them.
State investigators later decided not to pursue a full investigation after learning that Edwards had obtained the proper permission to purchase the items. Additionally, it was difficult for investigators to determine exactly when the items came up missing, Gower said.
The sheriff said there have been accusations by other elected officials that he lied to investigators by telling them he had all of the items in his possession and that he later changed his story during an email exchange he had with County Attorney Scott Garrett.
However, Gower said he was always upfront and honest about the fact he did not have the other listed items in his possession and that he answered questions from state investigators truthfully.
Gower provided a copy of the emails in question to Cedar City News, which showed he admitted he did not have the items. Emails sent by Gower to Garrett also show the sheriff never changed his story.
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