Lawyer: Former SMCAS director innocent

Published 9:57 am Thursday, April 7, 2016

A lawyer representing a former Niles ambulance service director charged with embezzling money from the ambulance service says his client is not guilty of the charge.

Last week, Tim Gray was charged with embezzlement of $50,000 to $100,000 — a felony carrying a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

Tim Gray

Tim Gray

The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office alleges that Gray misappropriated more than $98,000 while working as the director of the Southwestern Michigan Community Ambulance Service, a non-profit, municipally owned ambulance service covering the greater Niles area.

Michael Cronkright, of the law firm Kronzek & Cronkright in Lansing, said Gray entered a plea of not guilty at his arraignment hearing at the Berrien County Courthouse in Niles March 31.

“He is insisting that he is innocent and hasn’t done anything wrong and certainly hasn’t violated any laws,” Cronkright said.

According to the prosecutor’s office, the allegations against Gray include:

• Excessive “paid time off” in the amount of $58,537

• Holiday pay and vision reimbursement for which Gray was not entitled in excess of $10,000

• Receiving full salary while on short-term disability in excess of $29,700

Cronkright said he could not talk about specific allegations at this time because the defense does not have all of the documentation it needs, including an audit that was done on SMCAS that is referenced in police reports.

Cronkright described the audit as the “real meat” of the investigation.

He said he plans to file a motion for discovery to obtain the audit and other relevant documentation at Gray’s next scheduled court date April 13 at the Niles Courthouse.

“We are confident that we will be able to demonstrate that Mr. Gray has not committed any crimes when we get the details of the audit and the supporting documentation,” he said.

Gray, 49, worked in various roles for SMCAS over a period of 30 years. He became director in 2008 and retired in June of 2014.

Current SMCAS Director Brian Scribner, who took over when Gray retired, said he discovered “inconsistencies” in SMCAS’ books in October of 2014.

That information was later submitted to the MSP, which conducted the investigation that ultimately led to the embezzlement charge against Gray.

Cronkright said as of right now he and Gray plan to take the case to trial in order to prove Gray’s innocence.

“We are asserting that Mr. Gray is innocent and hasn’t committed any crimes and the truth will come out,” he said.