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Mineral Volunteer Rescue Squad moves forward after scandal

Posted on Monday, March 20, 2017 at 10:00 am

Lt. Robert Farish (l) and Capt. Steve Raileanu (r) stand by their newly refurbished ambulance, one of three in Mineral Volunteer Rescue Squad’s fleet.

A couple days after the long-time leader of Mineral Volunteer Rescue Squad was sentenced on March 9 to a year in jail, two former colleagues served a 12-hour shift at the station and rode the ambulance to respond to emergencies.

Much has changed since Winston Evatt was arrested for stealing over $13,000 from fellow volunteers and the organization. The squad now has just a handful of members, since numerous people who had given their time to save people’s lives left in disgust.

Others left because they were allied with Evatt. He was known to some as an excellent teacher of basic rescue skills. He was also known to keep tight control over the squad and its finances.

For several years before Evatt was arrested in April 2016, the squad was divided between his supporters and those who suspected him of mishandling the squad’s money.

“I suspected something many years ago, but I distanced myself from the situation and the board,” Steve Raileanu, who now leads the squad, said last week.

“I just ran my shift,” he said. “There was once or twice I tried to get myself elected captain. People who believed in Winston tried to railroad me out of the squad. There were people who believed in him, who were dumbfounded, who said, ‘How could this have happened?’ It was easy, people asked questions and they didn’t get answered.”

Evatt’s sentence is for seven counts of embezzlement, one count of money laundering and one count of commercial fraud. Louisa County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Sanner forbid Evatt from serving as the treasurer of a volunteer organization for the next 20 years.

Before he was led away in handcuffs, Evatt had a chance to make a brief statement in court.

“I know those who know me may not trust me anymore,” he said. “It’ll take the rest of my life to make up for what I’ve done.”

Evatt was found guilty of taking $3,675 in county funds that were supposed to go to rescue squad members in 2016. Each of the 21 people the squad identified as members were due $175 in appreciation for their service.

Other money Evatt stole had disappeared from the squad’s accounts between 2012 and 2015. He had used the squad’s checks or credit card to buy personal items, according to Adam Ward, Louisa County deputy commonwealth’s attorney.

Evatt presented a check during the court hearing for the entire amount he owed to his victims, $13,682.

It’s water under the bridge to Raileanu, who is now focused on making sure the rescue squad can continue to be a partner with the county government in providing the best service it can.

To read the entire story, see the March 16 edition of The Central Virginian.