John Rose, who left his job last year as the Oak Bluffs fire and EMS chief under a cloud of controversy surrounding sexual harassment claims and ambulance billing practices, is in the process of joining Tisbury’s ambulance service. On Thursday Tisbury Ambulance Director Tracey Jones confirmed Rose, an experienced paramedic, was going through an “orientation process” along with another paramedic and four EMTs. Rose and the five others are slated for per diem ambulance work, Jones said.
Tisbury select board member Larry Gomez said of Rose, “He’s been in per diem for a few weeks.” Asked if he had any thoughts or concerns about Rose’s hire for per diem work, Gomez said, “I didn’t hire him. I don’t even know the man.”
He went on to say, “Whether it’s concerning to me or not, I have no control over who they hire.”
The Tisbury select board is in transition. Asked for comment on Thursday, recent chair Jim Rogers, who lost in Tuesday’s election, said the select board doesn’t make day-to-day personnel decisions. Board member Jeff Kristal did not respond to a message.
Town administrator Jay Grande didn’t respond to texts, phone messages, or messages left through his assistant during two visits to town hall.
Tisbury finance director Jonathan Snyder told The Times in an email, “I am told that Mr. Rose has not yet been hired.” “If or when he is, he would be paid $28 an hour as a part-time/seasonal paramedic on step 1 of that scale.”
Rose resigned April 30, 2020, from his post in Oak Bluffs after striking an agreement with the town. Rose was earning $131,736 at the time of his resignation.
“Chief John Rose and the Oak Bluffs board of selectmen have mutually agreed to part ways so that the Fire Department and EMS Services can begin their next chapter,” a town of Oak Bluffs release stated. Prior to his resignation, Oak Bluffs settled a sexual harassment complaint lodged against Rose.
A $97,500 settlement came in January 2020, following a Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) complaint and lawsuit by a fire department employee. Cynthia Hatt, who no longer works in the department, accused Rose of making sexual advances, and alleged he then retaliated against her when she rejected them. As part of the settlement, Hatt withdrew her MCAD complaint and a Barnstable Superior Court suit.
In both the complaint and the suit, Hatt alleged that she had a consensual relationship with Rose, but after a breakup, she alleged that Rose persisted in his pursuit of her and took away overtime pay in retaliation.
During the end of Rose’s tenure at the Oak Bluffs Fire Department, the FBI was in the midst of an investigation into the department’s handling of federal billing for Medicare and Medicaid. In September 2019, Former Oak Bluffs town administrator Robert Whritenour confirmed the town had overbilled for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements for off-Island ambulance runs. Asked Thursday for an update on the investigation, FBI spokesperson Kristen Setera said the agency declines comment.
Rose did not respond to a phone call or text messages seeking comment.
Reached Thursday, Hatt declined to comment.
Jones said all candidates undergo a background check as part of their evaluation process.
“There’s a need,” she said of new per diems. The ambulance service has four full-time paramedics who’ve worked through the pandemic and are headed into the summer season. Calls for overtime work are increasing, she said, and she doesn’t want to burn those four full-time paramedics out.
Jones described Rose’s paramedic skills as exceptional. “If my mother were sick, that’s who I’d want coming through the door,” she said.