Psych Crime Reporter

April 23, 2014

Psychiatrist Aubrey Levin guilty of sex assault loses appeal, must turn himself in

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 5:04 pm

CALGARY – The Alberta Court of Appeal has refused to overturn a psychiatrist’s three convictions for sexually assaulting his court-appointed patients.

Dr. Aubrey Levin was found guilty by a jury in January 2013 and was sentenced to five years in prison.

Levin, 75, had asked the Appeal Court last October to dismiss the convictions and order a new trial. He had remained free on bail while the appeal was being heard.

But the court has ruled that there is no merit in any of the appeal arguments raised by Levin’s lawyer.

“The appeal accordingly is dismissed,” writes the three-member panel in a decision released Wednesday.

“We direct that Levin turn himself into custody within 48 hours after the filing of this judgment, failing which a warrant for his arrest will issue.”

The original allegations against Levin came to light in 2010 after one of his patients came forward with secret videos he had recorded during sessions with the psychiatrist.

The patient was on probation at the time the videos were taken and had been ordered by a court to see Levin twice a month. The man said he had told authorities about previous assaults and no one believed him, so he bought a spy camera and brought it to his appointments.

At the time of Levin’s convictions, the jury was unable to reach a verdict on four other charges.

The Crown retried Levin on two of them and last month a new jury was again unable to reach a consensus.

Levin, who immigrated to Canada from South Africa, was frequently used by the courts to assess people and provide expert opinions at hearings.

He served briefly as director for the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon and was licensed in 1998 to practise psychiatry in Alberta.

Levin is no stranger to controversy over his work. He faced heated accusations about his time as a military psychiatrist during apartheid in South Africa, where he earned his degree in 1963.

In the 1970s, he was a psychiatrist at a military hospital where aversion therapy through electric shocks was allegedly used in an attempt to change the sexuality of gay soldiers. Levin is mentioned in a report that aimed to shed light on abuses of gays and lesbians in the military by health workers.

Source: Bill Graveland, “Calgary psychiatrist guilty of sex assault loses appeal, must turn himself in,” Calgary Herald, April 23, 2014.

Missouri sports psychologist Brandon Orr arrested for public intoxication

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 5:03 pm

Oklahoma City Police arrested a Missouri wrestling staff member early Sunday morning for public intoxication in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City.

“We are aware of Brandon’s situation and are addressing it in an appropriate manner,” Mizzou Athletics spokesman Chad Moller said in an emailed statement. “We are disappointed that this happened, and it’s an important reminder that staff members are held to high standards and that we are always representing the University at all times.”

Moller said Missouri athletics employees are always on the job whether or not they are working.

Brandon Orr is the wrestling team’s sports psychologist. He was arrested wearing a yellow Missouri polo and in the presence of several student athletes, according to the police report.

Orr was in Oklahoma City with the Missouri wrestling team for the 2014 NCAA Wrestling National Championships. The Tigers had eight wrestlers in the tournament.

The Sheraton is one block from Chesapeake Energy Arena, the site of the championships. It was a team hotel for many of the competing schools.

When officers arrived at the hotel, about 50 people were in the lobby, many of them drunk and intoxicated student athletes, according to the police report, though no other university affiliations were mentioned. The report said that hotel employees called the police because the situation was getting out of hand.

Officers asked people in the lobby to return to their rooms, but Orr refused. He also refused twice to the officers’ request to stand up.

The report said Orr smelled of alcohol and that there was a table with several empty beer bottles in front of him.

The tournament ended Saturday night, and Orr was arrested around 3 a.m. Sunday. He was released 10 hours later and paid a $167 fine, as is the policy with local public drunkenness citations.

“I apologize for my recent actions,” Orr said in a statement from the athletic department. “I made an inappropriate comment to an officer, and I very much regret that. I know that this doesn’t reflect the values we are held to at Mizzou.”

Orr, an assistant teaching professor, has been with MU since 2008. He is currently a fellow with the Honors College and has taught some general honors courses. He currently instructs an online course for graduate students about sports and applied coaching.

“We cannot comment on disciplinary procedures,” MU spokesman Christian Basi said Wednesday.

According to the human resources policy manual, UM employees can be fired without warning due to the seriousness of the incident. Basi said being drunk on the job is a serious enough offense to warrant summary discharge.

This is the seventh known arrest this year of a Missouri athlete or athletics department official.

Source: Katherine Knott, “Wrestling team’s sport psychologist arrested after hotel lobby party,” The Maneater, March 26, 2014.

Wife-beating Cambridge psychiatrist Empee Vithayathil barred from profession for a year

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 5:02 pm

A psychiatrist who repeatedly assaulted his wife, breaking her ankle on one occasion, has been banned from the profession for a year.

Cambridge-based Dr Empee Vithayathil, who was described as having ruled his household “with a rod of iron”, was suspended at the conclusion of a four-day hearing at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service.

The hearing heard Dr Vithayathil had been sentenced to four months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, at Cambridge Crown Court last year.

He was also made subject to a restraining order and told to participate in a domestic abuse programme.

This came after Dr Vithayathil was convicted of one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and three counts of assault by beating.

The first count related to an incident in 2007 when Dr Vithayathil attacked his wife, resulting in her breaking her ankle and having to spend eight weeks in a plaster cast.

The other counts related to three assaults in the space of three days in February last year.

First, Dr Vithayathil slapped his wife’s face following an argument over a library book, which erupted again the following evening.

On the second night he slapped her in the face, bent her wife’s fingers back against her hand, grasped both her hands in a ‘lock-style’ grip, and hit her in the chest.

The following morning Dr Vithayathil had an argument with his sons, which ended in him slapping one of them.

The panel heard Dr Vithayathil admitted his wife’s injury in 2007 was “highly significant” but was “not an intended consequence” of his actions.

Sentencing, Judge Jonathan Haworth had told Dr Vithayathil the offences “occurred in a household which you clearly ruled with a rod of iron”, the panel was told.

Craig Ferguson, for Dr Vithayathil, told the panel there was no suggestion his client posed a risk to patients or that his violent tendencies “extend beyond a domestic setting”, adding there was a “non-existent” chance of a remorseful Dr Vithayathil reoffending.

Michael Menlowe, the panel chairman, said: “The panel is satisfied this suspension is proportionate and is sufficient to protect the public interest.

“It also signals to the public and other members of the medical profession that behaviour such as yours is serious and unacceptable because it undermines proper professional standards and public confidence in the medical profession.”

Source: Chris Havergal, “Wife-beating Cambridge psychiatrist Empee Vithayathil barred from profession for a year,” Cambridge News, April 19, 2014.

April 22, 2014

Alaska psychiatrist charged with $300K Medicaid fraud

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 2:59 pm

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Anchorage psychiatrist is accused of billing Medicaid more than $300,000 for services authorities said were never provided.

Shubhranjan Ghosh, 39, is charged by the state with medical assistance fraud, scheme to defraud and evidence tampering, the Anchorage Daily News (http://is.gd/57Jszz) reported. Ghosh is the founder and sole practitioner at Ghosh Psychiatric Services.

He was arrested Tuesday. His arrest comes after a string of unrelated charges connected to Medicaid in what the state calls a continuing crackdown on billing fraud.

The Alaska Medicaid Fraud Control Unit has charged 77 people with Medicaid fraud, abuse or neglect since October 2012, compared to about 30 people the decade before, according to assistant attorney general Andrew Peterson.

“It will hopefully serve to save taxpayers a significant number of dollars,” Peterson said.

The Ghosh investigation began in September 2013 when an employee alerted authorities that she had “discovered a large fraudulent Medicaid billing issue,” according to charging documents. The charges say the woman first noticed the fraud in the summer of 2013 when looking at a bill for a patient who was not in the office for the indicated visit.

According to the documents, the worker told the office manager, who said he and Ghosh had been submitting false billings for years to cover time spent doing non-compensated tasks such as phone calls and emails for Medicaid-related cases.

It’s unclear if Ghosh has an attorney. He is being held on $100,000 bail in Anchorage.

Authorities said one of Ghosh’s patients told investigators the psychiatrist asked to create false billings for her children. When the woman said no, Ghosh “responded that she owed it to him for everything he was doing for her,” the charges state.

The charges also say Alaska Medicaid billing records note that Ghosh billed Medicaid for more than 40 visits with the patient’s children.

Ghosh’s office manager has not been charged. Peterson said the investigation is ongoing.

Source: “Anchorage psychiatrist charged with fraud,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 17, 2014.

Psychiatrist Gary Byrd sentenced for child pornography…again

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 2:58 pm

A federal judge sentenced a former Opelousas child psychiatrist to 15 years in prison for possessing and receiving child pornography.

United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced this week that Gary Jefferson Byrd, 72, received that sentence from U.S. District Judge Elizabeth E. Foote. He also has been ordered to undergo 10 years of supervised probation after he completes his sentence.

Finley said this week’s sentencing followed a two-day trial in October.

“Witness testimony and documents admitted into evidence established that from February 2008 to April 2011, Byrd ordered 44 compact discs containing videos of child pornography from a Canadian company,” Finley said in a press release.

“United States Postal Inspectors executed a search warrant on Byrd’s home and found stacks of compact discs containing tens of thousands of images of child pornography that Byrd had downloaded from the internet. Byrd had also printed hundreds of images of child pornography that he kept in files in his bedroom,” Finley said.

She said the U.S. Postal Service Investigations conducted the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Luke Walker prosecuted the case.

This is Byrd’s second conviction on similar charges. In 1992, a federal jury convicted Byrd of possessing child pornography. He served 10 years in prison for that conviction. Before the 1992 conviction, he worked as a child psychiatrist.

“This case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a U.S. Department of Justice launched nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse,” Finley said.

Led by U.S. Attorneys’ offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.

Source: William Johnson, “Ex-psychiatrist sentenced for child porn,” The Daily World, April 20, 2014.

April 10, 2014

Mother’s lawsuit alleges psych unit has restrained her son more than 6,300 hours

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 2:00 pm

BOSTON — A Brookline woman filed a lawsuit against the state prisons department Monday, saying her 31-year-old son has been restrained for long periods at a state psychiatric hospital in violation of state law.

Joanne Minich said in her complaint filed in Norfolk Superior Court that her son, Peter Minich, has been held in prolonged isolation at Bridgewater State Hospital and continuously deprived of almost all human contact and exercise for more than 6,300 hours since January 2013.

Peter Minich, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, has also been placed in mechanical restraints for more than 800 hours over 12 months, for as long as 50 consecutive hours, according to the lawsuit.

The suit seeks an injunction to prevent further restraint and Peter Minich’s transfer to another hospital.

The lawsuit names as defendants the state Department of Correction, the top administrator at Bridgewater State and the contractor that provides mental health services at the hospital.

Bridgewater State Hospital deferred comment to the state Department of Correction, which said it is “closely” reviewing the complaint and the facts of the case.

“While we cannot comment on specific individuals or cases, the use of seclusion and restraint at Bridgewater State Hospital (BSH) is a clinical decision and one we view as a measure of last resort to protect patients from each other, from themselves and to keep staff safe,” the DOC said in a statement.

The DOC said it has taken steps in recent years to better train staff in “de-escalation techniques” to limit instances where those measures are necessary. The DOC said it and the hospital also work closely with the Department of Mental Health to transition Bridgewater patients, when appropriate, to DMH hospitals.

A telephone message was also left for the contractor.

Peter Minich was civilly committed to the state Department of Correction facility after he was accused of assaulting staff at another state mental health facility. He has not been convicted of a crime.

“My son has an illness, in the same sense as someone with cancer or dementia. The last place he belongs is in a seclusion room behind a solid steel door,” Joanne Minich said in a statement.

State law prohibits the use of seclusion and restraint except for emergencies including “extreme violence” or “attempted suicide,” according to Joanne Minich’s lawyer, Eric MacLeish.

Minich was secluded and restrained for reasons such as “yelling,” ”bothering another patient,” ”standing on his sink,” and having “auditory hallucinations,” he said.

Source: Brookline woman sues state prisons over son’s isolation, restraint at psychiatric hospital, Associated Press, March 31, 2014.

State closes children’s psychiatric center for patient abuses

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:59 pm

GREENSBORO — The young patients might not have known what the law says about restraining a violent adolescent.

Still, they questioned the method used to subdue them at Omega Treatment Center: being held face down into a pillow, hands forced behind their backs as they struggled to breathe.

“I think it’s abuse,” a 12-year-old patient told state investigators in February. “They should not treat us like this.”

On Feb. 12, state investigators shut down Omega — a mental health center for adolescents — after investigating reports of abuse, neglect and dangerous living conditions.

The state issued an emergency order to close the center on Old Battleground Road. Omega’s troubled residents — most of whom have severe mental and behavioral disorders — are living in other treatment centers across the state.

The state’s Division of Health Service Regulation issued its final report last week.

It details a variety of problems. They range from shoddy record keeping, lack of heat and hot water to the most troubling of all — illegal restraint, both physical and “chemical” through the use of injectable antipsychotic drugs.

The report quotes an unnamed inspector with the Guilford County Department of Public Health: “I wouldn’t even allow a dog to live back there.”

The News & Record on Thursday wasn’t able to reach Barsheem C. Chapman, president of Omega’s parent company, Elite Adolescent Care. A phone number listed in his name is disconnected.

In late January and early February, investigators interviewed dozens of people familiar with Omega’s operations — patients, staff members, administrators and psychiatrists, though none are identified by name.

Investigators also reviewed patient files, medication logs and employee files.

This past week, they fined Omega $31,000 for the following violations of state law:

• Failing to use the least restrictive type of restraint possible to subdue the young patients.

• Failing to document the use of restraints and using drugs to subdue patients without permission from a parent or guardian.

• Leaving the children alone on locked residential wings overnight.

• Failing to put treatment plans in patient files.

• Preventing patients from calling their parents.

• Failing to document how staffers destroyed unused prescription drugs when patients left center.

• Failing to providing CPR and other training classes to 19 of 22 staff members.

The center’s director told investigators that the patients didn’t have the proper clothes to accommodate the lack of heat.

“It is cold in the facility,” the director said. “The clients have no warm clothes. … I spent my own money to buy them all coats.”

Omega’s patients are in the category of the most troubled adolescents who require residential care.

Many were prone to violent outbursts. Many have a history of being sexually abused.

One resident, an 11-year-old boy, was himself a sexual abuser. According to the state’s report, he went to juvenile detention once for sodomizing a sibling, and set a sibling’s hair on fire in another incident.

He suffers from depressive disorder and conduct disorder and has severe sexual problems, known as paraphilic disorder.

He told investigators that during one violent episode, staffers pressed his face into his pillow as he lay on his stomach.

“It hurts when you get restrained,” the boy said, “but isn’t that the point of it?”

Another patient, a 15-year-old with a mood disorder, similarly described the restraint method to investigators:

“I couldn’t breathe with my head on my pillow, so I had to turn my head around.”

The state’s interviews with Omega’s adult supervisors supported the children’s claims.

During an interview with state investigators in mid-February, the director of nursing said “there are times when I walk away and I can still hear (clients) screaming.

“The staff wants the clients to learn to stay in line.”

One former employee, a registered nurse, said she heard the screams of a 14-year-old patient with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The nurse then saw staffers use an improper restraint.

“I told them they had to let her up.”

It was her last day working at Omega.

“When I saw that abuse that day, I got the heck out of dodge,” she said. “It’s pitiful. Just pitiful.”

Source: Margaret Moffett Banks, “Update: State orders closure of Omega Center in Greensboro,” News-Record, March 27, 2014.

April 3, 2014

Washington counselor Sarah McCallum loses license for sex with client

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:53 pm

On March 28, 2014, the Washington State Department of Health suspended the credential of agency affiliated counselor Sarah Corene McCallum for at least seven years. McCallum had sexual contact with a patient she treated while working as a sex offender treatment provider at a Washington correctional facility.

Texas psychologist disciplinary actions, February 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:53 pm

On February 13, 2014, the Texas Board of Examiners of Psychologists took the following disciplinary actions:

  • Ordered Michael Pelfrey to pay an administrative penalty and obtain additional professional development for failure to display his license, as required by law.
  • Ordered April Owen to pay an administrative penalty and obtain additional professional development for failure to report legal action taken against her to the Board.
  • Ordered Marcella Fooks to pay an administrative penalty and obtain additional professional development for failure to provide records as required by law.
  • Ordered Jorge Carillo to pay an administrative penalty and obtain additional professional development for failure to provide records as required by law.
  • Reprimanded Gerald Bryan and ordered him to pay an administrative penalty and obtain additional professional development for providing a visitation recommendation in a child custody dispute without performing an evaluation and without having a therapeutic relationship with the child.
  • Reprimanded Dana Bernstein and ordered her to pay an administrative penalty and obtain additional professional development for failing to adequately document joint sessions between spouses.
  • Reprimanded Sean Ricks and ordered her to pay an administrative penalty and obtain additional professional development for providing psychological services on an expired license.
  • Ordered Alethia Phillips to pay an administrative penalty for supervising an individual who provided psychological services but was not licensed to do so nor exempt from licensure.

Utah psychiatrist loses licenses in two states

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:52 pm

On March 19, 2014, the Medical Board of California placed an immediate suspension on the license of psychiatrist Thomas K. Trauba.

This action was in response to the February 11, 2014 suspension of his license by the medical licensing authority of the state of Utah, whose document in the matter states that between approximately June 2011 and June 2013, Trauba overprescribed controlled substances, including morphine, oxycodone and oxycontin to a number of patients and failed to properly document in the patients’ records sufficient reason to justify the amounts and frequency at which he prescribed.

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