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New Chapel EMS leader addresses company changes amid Jamey Noel investigation

Matt Owen, president and CEO at the Utica Township Volunteer Firefighters Association, also known as New Chapel EMS, talks with media at a news conference Wednesday.
Aprile Rickert
Matt Owen, president and CEO at the Utica Township Volunteer Firefighters Association, also known as New Chapel EMS, talks with media at a news conference Wednesday.

New Chapel EMS President and CEO Matt Owen said the company is making changes in light of allegations against Jamey Noel, who previously ran the organization.

Matt Owen, now president and CEO of the Utica Township Volunteer Firefighters Association, also known as New Chapel EMS, said the nonprofit organization is making changes as the criminal investigation into Jamey Noel continues.

Noel, who was the Clark County Sheriff from 2015 to 2022, was arrested and initially charged in November. He also previously led the nonprofit for decades. He now faces 25 felonies including theft, ghost employment and tax evasion.

Allegations include that he personally benefited from both the sheriff’s office and Utica/New Chapel, including through a series of vehicle sales and trades, and that he charged personal items to Utica/New Chapel over several years. Noel’s wife and daughter are also charged with using the nonprofit funds. All three are out on bond.

Leadership and staffing restructure 

At a news conference Wednesday morning, Owen addressed the allegations against Noel, and what the nonprofit is doing to prevent abuse of assets or finances.

“Members of the New Chapel organization have been appalled, just as appalled as the rest of our community, to learn about the allegations brought against a person who has led this organization for more than 30 years,” Owen said.

Noel was placed on administrative leave from Utica/New Chapel following his arrest in early November, and a process started to remove him from company accounts. Owen said on Jan. 12, the board of directors “made the decision to separate from Jamey Noel regarding his employment as CEO.”

Owen, who said he was not personally on the board prior to last August, couldn’t speak to oversight, if any, there was over Noel’s actions in leading the nonprofit.

But he said the new board, seated in August, has implemented safeguards to prevent mismanagement of finances and company assets. That includes restricting purchasing authority and implementing new financial controls, to prevent any one person from having sole control.

New protocol includes board approval needed for vehicle sales or trades, credit card applications and cardholders and purchase agreements over a certain threshold. Checks over $5,000 require two staff signatures.

Owen said Utica/New Chapel leadership is planning to commission a third party audit of the company, but that’s on hold until they get documents back that are part of the state police investigation. It’s unclear when the police investigation will conclude.

He said the organization has also restructured leadership and that the command staff is working to approach how they serve their communities.

That includes changing to the staffing model serving the New Albany Township Fire Protection District. He said with the “split staffing” model, which they have been using there, a firefighter with EMS skills might get tied up on an ambulance when they could have been available for fire calls.

The change will mean a dedicated fire station running calls out of Station 1 on Charlestown Road. He said that’s in anticipation of a renegotiated contract with the district that will better protect taxpayers and provide better service.

Owen said they’re also enhancing training for the EMS side of the nonprofit. They’re also planning to reestablish an EMS unit in the north part of Floyd County in partnership with Monroe Township.

Building use agreement 

At the Wednesday news conference, Owen also addressed questions related to an agreement the newly seated board entered last August for the use of Noel’s pole barn, a structure large enough to store multiple cars. Court records show under the agreement, the nonprofit would have use of the barn in exchange for paying utilities and maintenance.

The agreement was signed days after initial warrants were served at Noel’s home and several locations of Utica/New Chapel. When asked why the board would have entered this agreement at that time, Owen declined to respond, citing the pending state police investigation.

He said Utica/New Chapel made one gas utility payment after Noel’s arrest, but have not made any further payments. He said the agreement is still in effect, “because we cannot confirm all of our property has been returned.”

Despite alleged mismanagement of funds and assets by Noel, Owen said he has no indication that the company is on unstable financial footing, and that the staff is committed to serving the area.

“The men and women who work in the field every day are not responsible for the actions of one person,” he said. “And we're going to work and show our dedication to the community to rebuild that trust.”

New warrant in Noel investigation 

Within hours of Owen’s news conference, LPM News observed multiple Indiana State Police vehicles at Noel’s Jeffersonville home, as they served the 45th search warrant in the ongoing investigation. The warrant shows they were looking for men's clothing from Tom James Company, which sells high-end custom clothing. They were also searching for any and all clothing purchased with a Utica/New Chapel card.

Court records show police waited for a delivery Wednesday from the company. They say the delivery was for a more than $3,000 purchase Noel made Dec. 18 for a suit and other items.

Records show he used a Utica/New Chapel card for the purchase, which was made just under six weeks after his arrest. A breakdown of charges on American Express accounts linked to Utica/New Chapel shows Noel charged more than $200,000 in clothing to the nonprofit card over several years.

Floyd County still considering EMS options ahead of contract end

New Chapel currently contracts with all of Clark County and most of Floyd County for ambulance service, although the current Floyd County contract expires in May.

County leaders have been focused on updating their service, and are moving toward a new contract with a service provider.

New Chapel EMS and AmeriPro Health were the two companies that submitted bids for the updated request for proposals sent out several months ago.

The Floyd County EMS Advisory Board was expected to make a recommendation between the two at a meeting last night, but tabled the vote as they explore the possibility of a fire-based service. The county commissioners will have the final say on a contract, and the council on its funding. The current contract expires at the end of May.

Coverage of Southern Indiana is funded, in part, by Samtec Inc., the Hazel & Walter T. Bales Foundation, and the Caesars Foundation of Floyd County.

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.

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