(TNS) Boone County ambulance director Randy Lengyel has paid back an illegal loan that he used to enhance his retirement benefits.
Lengyel delivered a $103,000 check to the Boone Ambulance Authority Tuesday and faxed documentation of the repayment to the Boone County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office on Friday.
“I always intended to pay it back,” Lengyel told the Gazette-Mail. “I got the money and paid it back in full. I haven’t heard anything else.”
The repayment came just days after Boone County commissioners asked a judge to force Lengyel to pay back the personal loan and freeze his retirement benefits, after Lengyel missed a Sept. 30 deadline to repay the money.
The Boone County Commission filed a civil complaint against Lengyel, alleging that he lobbied for “targeted legislation” that allowed him to enhance his retirement benefits, then persuaded the ambulance authority board to give him a no-interest loan so he could switch from the state public employees retirement plan to a more lucrative plan set up for emergency services workers.
“We were just trying to get our money back for ambulance services,” said Boone Commissioner Al Halstead.
The Boone County Commission is expected to withdraw the complaint, and Prosecuting Attorney Keith Randolph said he wouldn’t pursue criminal charges against Lengyel.
Lengyle reimbursed the ambulance authority the day he was served with a copy of the complaint.
“It looks like it was paid in full, which was the whole goal of the civil action,” Randolph said. “Once we confirm the check has cleared, then, of course, there won’t be any more civil action because there’s nothing else to ask for.”
In 2012, Lengyel asked ambulance authority board members to “front” him the money so he could join the new retirement plan — and promised to pay back the loan, according to the commission’s complaint. But the ambulance board never discussed the loan amount, interest rate, or whether the loan was legal, the complaint alleges.
In 2013, ambulance board President Howard Green and board member Joseph Gollie signed loan papers with Lengyel, who agreed to pay back the money in monthly installments of $350 after he retired. The board never voted on the loan agreement, and most board members never saw the contract, according to the complaint filed in Boone County Circuit Court.
In the complaint, Boone commissioners alleged that Lengyel used his public position for private gain — a violation of state ethics laws. Commissioners also argued Lengyel’s loan should be voided because it’s illegal. He had no legal right to use $103,000 in ambulance authority funds for a personal loan, according to the complaint.
Last month, the Boone County Commission took steps to remove Green and Gollie from the ambulance board. Boone commissioners are asking the state Supreme Court to appoint a three-judge panel to oust Green and Gollie, who allegedly gave Lengyel the go-ahead for the illegal loan.
“That’s still in the works,” Halstead said. “We were hoping they would resign, but they haven’t resigned yet.”
Boone commissioners also recently appointed four new members to the ambulance board.
Lengyel said the ambulance authority has increased revenues, bought 10 new ambulances and given four pay raises to employees since he was hired as director seven years ago. He said he plans to stay on the job.
“We’ve done so much good for the county,” he said. “I’m glad this is paid back, and I hope this is all behind us. We’re going to try to run the best ambulance agency we can.”
Reach Eric Eyre at email@example.com, 304-348-4869 or follow @ericeyre on Twitter.
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