JEFFERSON CITY, Mo (KMIZ)
The Cole County Commission said the FBI is investigating threats that followed the commission's decision to buy ambulances from a Canadian company.
"It was made very clear that the investigation was not about the actual ambulance purchase, itself, any wrongdoing by the Cole County Commission, and that the Cole County Commission was not the target of the investigation or any county staff," Western District Commissioner Kris Scheperle said.
Scheperle said the investigation will target threats made to Cole County officials.
"The threats to staff included loss of employment and takeover our EMS service because we refused to buy ambulances from certain places or people, using taxpayer money," he said.
The FBI's Kansas City office said it could not confirm or deny the existence of the investigation.
The commission had been purchasing ambulances from Osage Industries since 2009.
John Kehoe, the brother of Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe, is the majority owner.
"Two companies submitted pricing and Osage Industries was $17,000 more per unit," Scheperle said.
One of the company's owners acknowledged the investigation in a brief statement.
"We are aware of the investigation going on that involves the Cole County Courthouse," said Kyle Shimmens, a part owner of Osage Industries. "We await the outcome of the investigation and that's all we really have to say."
The commission said the savings allowed the county to purchase ventilators, IV pumps and more life-saving equipment.
"We hope that the individuals responsible will be exposed for criminal activity and be brought to justice," Scheperle said. "In the coming weeks, we expect those responsible to shift the focus, make false statements, and try to blame others for this activity."
Lt. Gov. Kehoe's office said he was in northwest Missouri on Monday and Tuesday and did not hear the Cole County Commission's statement.
Check back for updates to this developing story or watch ABC 17 News at 5 and 6.