Psych Crime Reporter

January 25, 2010

New York psychiatrist Ramon Ravelo arrested on six felony charges

Filed under: mental health,psychiatrist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 10:16 pm
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On January 5, 2010, officers with the Potsdam (New York) Police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration arrested psychiatrist Ramon E. Ravelo after a two-month investigation that was led by investigators from the New York State Department of Health Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement.

Ravelo was charged with five felony counts of Falsifying Business Records and one felony count of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance.

The arrest stems from allegations made to the Department of Health that Ravelo was engaging in illegal activities involving narcotics while employed as a psychiatrist at Canton-Potsdam Hospital between January 2008 and November 2009.

Source: Elizabeth Dearborn, “Psychiatrist arrested by DEA and Potsdam PD,” Governeur Times, January 20, 2009.


Craig Figley, Washington school psychologist, arrested on child molestation charge

On January 8, 2010, Washington state school psychologist Craig Figley was arrested on a charge of 1st Degree Child Molestation.

Figley is the school psychologist at Colville High School, in Colville, Washington, which is about 50 miles north of Spokane.

Officers of the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office and the Colville Police executed a search warrant on Figley and arrested him on January 7th.

The allegations against him involve an 11-year-old victim who is not a relative of Figley’s. The alleged incident is reported as not having occurred on school grounds.

Figley is being held on a $250,000 bond. His arraignment is pending and the investigation continues.

Source: Rob Kauder, “School psychologist arrested on child molestation charge”, January 8, 2010.

January 13, 2010

Wisconsin places limitations on license of psychologist Paul R. Hamilton

Filed under: mental health,psychologist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 6:13 am
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On December 2, 2009, the Wisconsin Psychology Examining Board issued a Final Decision and Order on Paul R. Hamilton, limiting his license by requiring his practice to be supervised by a Board-approved psychologist.

According to the Board’s document, Hamilton treated a 16-year-old patient from November 2005 to January 2007. The patient’s parents authorized only two sessions per week but through much of 2006, Hamilton billed for as many as seven sessions per week, some of which occurred on weekends and at night, both in-person and through e-mail and instant messaging.

Though Hamilton stated that he discussed with the parents the efficacy of this form of treatment for the patient, the parents denied knowledge of several of these treatment sessions at the time they occurred.

When the patient’s insurance benefits were exhausted, Hamilton began billing the insurance company for the patient’s sessions under the parents’ names, although he did not see the parents as patients.

Upon terminating Hamilton’s services, the parents received a bill showing an outstanding total balance of $11,630 for services allegedly provided to the mother, father and daughter.

When the parents disputed their bill, Hamilton contacted the patient by e-mail and told her of the dispute, which the patient stated caused her to self-harm.

In addition to having his practice supervised, Hamilton is also required by the Board to complete six hours of continuing education in law and ethics for psychologists and six hours of education in billing for psychologists, as well as a $1,200 for the cost of the proceeding against him.

Source: Final Decision and Order in the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against Paul R. Hamilton, LS0912021PSY, Case #08 PSY 012, State of Wisconsin Psychology Examining Board, December 2, 2009.

Washington psychiatrist Charles Huffine charged by state for neglect in adolescent substance abuse case; disciplined in 2007 teen case

On November 30, 2009, the Washington Department of Health (DoH) issued a Statement of Charges against psychiatrist Charles W. Huffine for unprofessional conduct.

According to the document, Huffine provided treatment to a teenage male with a known history of substance abuse and a possible suicidal attempt, as well as considerable present-time substance abuse, including alcohol, marijuana, methadone, OxyContin and LSD.

Among the state’s allegations is that, despite an OxyContin overdose and the patient’s admissions of other substance use, escalating family turmoil instigated by the patient, increasing erratic and violent behavior, an auto accident and two citations (one for Minor in Possession), Huffine never pursued a urinalysis or other laboratory tests to determine what exactly the patient was taking or how much; never suggested to the patient that he stop using; did nothing to monitor the patient’s use; did not adequately assess the impact of the patient’s substance abuse on his mental health; did not inform the patient’s parents regarding the serious nature of the patient’s substance abuse and did not significantly involve the family in the patient’s treatment.

Further, in response to the patient’s mother’s concerns about her son’s behavior and obvious signs of drug abuse, Huffine did not inform the mother of the “serious level of danger to her son and others. Instead, he reassured the mother…suggested that he mother should not be so sure about whether the drugs were producing the patient’s…behavior. He urged her to look beyond the drug issues and see the behavior as complex and affected by psychiatric issues.” He told the mother that her son was “not ready” to stop using drugs.

Lastly, despite the known and very serious substance abuse, Huffine did not recommend more intense substance abuse treatment and on many occasions actually recommended against immediate inpatient treatment.

Ultimately, the boy was found un-arousable from sleep and was taken to the hospital where it was found he’d overdosed on 180 mg of methadone. He soon after entered substance abuse treatment and did not return to Huffine’s treatment. 

The DoH records for Huffine also contain a January 2007 Order in which Huffine was censured for unprofessional conduct because he “crossed professional boundaries” with a 16-year-old female patient in that he “created an unhealthy dependency in wherein the patient focused on her relationship with Huffine to the exclusion of relationships with her parents and boyfriend…substituted himself as a father figure for the patient, created role confusion for the patient and was divisive in the patient’s relationship with her parents.”

Source: Statement of Charges in the Matter of Charles W. Huffine, M.D., License No. MD00013207, Case No. M2009-349, Washington Dept. of Health Medical Quality Assurance Commission, filed November 30, 2009 and Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Final Order in the Matter of Charles W. Huffine, M.D., License No. MD00013207, Docket No. 05-05-A-1013MD, Washington Dept. of Health Medical Quality Assurance Commission, filed January 29, 2007.

January 7, 2010

New Jersey psychiatrist Russell Ferstandig surrenders license, tested positive for cocaine

Filed under: psychiatrist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:51 pm

On August 3, 2009, psychiatrist Russell Ferstandig surrendered his license to practice medicine to the State of New Jersey.

According to the Board’s consent order, this action occurred following the receipt by the Board of evidence that Ferstandig violated the terms of an a July 24, 2008 consent order wherein he was required to comply with all terms imposed by the Professional Assistance Program of New Jersey (a monitoring and rehabilitation program for impaired health care practitioners).

The Board’s document states that a urine sample collected from Ferstandig on June 23, 2009 tested positive for cocaine metabolites.

Source: Consent Order in the Matter of the Suspension or Revocation of the License of Russell Ferstandig, M.D., License No. MA035048, State of New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Consumer Affairs, State Board of Medical Examiners, filed August 3, 2009.

State board charges psychiatrist Gurmeet Multani with sexual abuse of patient

On December 10, 2009, the Medical Board of California issued an Accusation against psychiatrist Gurmeet Singh Multani, alleging sexual abuse, misconduct or relations, unprofessional conduct, repeated negligent acts, failure to maintain adequate and accurate records, gross negligence.

The Board’s document states that Multani treated patient “LE” from July 2006 to March 2007 and also treated her son and daughter. LE went to Multani for help with depression and sexual trauma. She disclosed to Multani during the course of her treatment that she had engaged in prostitution.

Multani subsequently asked LE out to dinner and she agreed. Following dinner and drinks, Multani took her to his office, where he engaged the patient in sexual intercourse. In the document, LE reported that Multani engaged her in intercourse many other times at his office, that he paid her various amounts of money for sex, including one occasion in which paid her $2,000 and that Multani had sex with LE on numerous occasions at LE’s apartment as well.

With another patient, “JR,” Multani is alleged to have prescribed a narcotic appetite suppressant following JR’s concerns about her weight, despite a 10-year history of opiate dependence and the addictive potential of the appetite suppressant. When JR complained that the drug made her hyper, Multani told her to continue to take it.

The document also states that Multani conducted a “check” of her weight loss progress that consisted of raising her skirt to expose her legs and thighs, rubbing and pinching the inside of her bare thighs, unzipping her skirt to observe her hips and touching her vagina through her underwear. During this “check” Multani made comments about JR being sexy. JR reported the incident to police that same day.

Source: Accusation in the Matter of the Accusation Against Gurmeet Singh Multani, M.D., Physician’s and Surgeon’s Certificate No. A-48279, Case No. 09-2007-188108, Medical Board of California, filed December 10, 2009.

Milton P. Huang, former psychiatrist at University of California Santa Cruz, surrenders license over oral sex with student

On December 24, 2009, psychiatrist Milton P. Huang voluntarily surrendered his medical license to the Medical Board of California in order to resolve pending charges of unprofessional conduct.

According to the Board’s document, Huang engaged in “sexual abuse, sexual misconduct and/or sexual contact by disrobing and hugging, kissing and touching intimate parts of [a patient’s] body, and/or by engaging in acts of oral copulation.”

Huang was employed at the University of California Santa Cruz’s (UCSC) health center when he committed these acts with a patient of the center. The document states that Huang resigned from his position at the University after being suspended and placed under investigation over the allegations.

During the investigation, he acknowledged that he had engaged in a “boundary violation” with a 21-year-old female patient—a student at UCSC—including acts of physical intimacy starting in his office and continuing in meetings outside the office. 

Source: Decision in the Matter of the Accusation Against Milton Peechuan Huang, M.D., Physician’s and Surgeon’s Certificate No. CFE 50791, File No. 03-2008-189734, Before the Medical Board of California, effective December 24, 2009.

Atlanta psychiatrist Seth Pope surrenders license following criminal sex charges

On January 7, 2010, psychiatrist Seth Pope surrendered his medical license to the Georgia Composite Medical Board, acknowledging “that this surrender shall have the same effect as a revocation of my license….”  According to the Board’s interim consent order, “On or about July 2009, the Board received information alleging [Pope] was indicted in Dekalb Superior Court for one count of…sexual assault against a patient, and one count of…unlawful prescription.”  Pope pleaded not guilty to the charges but, according to the Board’s document, “desires to voluntarily suspend his license so that he can devote his undivided attention to the defense of the charges against him.”

Pope’s office is on the campus of Peachford Hospital, a psychiatric facility that is owned and administered by Universal Health Services, a Pennsylvania-based health care management company with more than 100 behavioral health facilities.

Universal Health Services has been the subject of interest by concerned groups due to an apparent disregard for patient safety and well-being, which is documented in a report you can read here.

Source: Voluntary Surrender in the Matter of Seth Pop, M.D., License No. 23710, Docket No. 20100054, Before the Georgia Composite Medical Board, filed January 7, 2010.

January 5, 2010

State revokes license of Fresno (California) psychologist Kristin Hibbard; arrested for burglary

Filed under: crime and fraud,mental health,psychologist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 5:30 am
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On November 20, 2009, the Board of Psychology of the State of California revoked the license of Kristin Hibbard, Ph.D. According to Board documents, from 2006 to December 2008, Hibbard treated a patient who had been injured at work and was subsequently referred to Hibbard for counseling in anger management and depression.

In November 2008, the patient received a worker’s compensation settlement in excess of $150,000. In early December, the patient and his wife went to Hibbard’s office for his regular appointment, during which Hibbard requested that the patient sign a power of attorney giving her and another individual control over his worker’s compensation award. The patient did not want to do that, at which point Hibbard became angry and yelled at him. The Board’s document further states that Hibbard requested the wife to leave, threatening to have the patient involuntarily committed if she did not.

The patient ultimately signed the power of attorney over to Hibbard and the other individual. The patient and his wife later discovered that Hibbard had withdrawn $24,000 of the the patient’s money. When confronted about this by the patient’s wife, Hibbard is reported to have stated, “I don’t have to talk to you…. It’s not his money anyway.” The patient and his wife then contacted the Fresno Police Department.

Further, Hibbard was arrested on December 25, 2008 in the burglary of her mother’s home. Though Hibbard assured the Fresno police that she lived in the house, none of her keys fit the locks; the mother reported to police that Hibbard did not have permission to be there, did not live there and that she had changed all the locks after Hibbard broke into the house around Thanksgiving 2008.

Hibbard was thus charged by the Board with dishonest, corrupt or fraudulent acts and was served a copy of the Board’s accusation and other documents, to which she failed to respond. She is also required to reimburse the Board $13,506.51 for the costs of investigating the case against her.

Source: Accusation in the Matter of the Accusation Against Kristin Hibbard, Ph.D., Psychologist’s License No. PSY-19414, Case No. 1F-2009-198384, filed July 23, 2009 and Default Decision and Order, effective November 20, 2009.

Los Angeles psychologist Lois Vodhanel gets probation for alcohol-related traffic convictions

On September 30, 2009, the Psychology Board of the State of California revoked the license of Lois Verbanic Vodhanel, Ph.D. Revocation was stayed and Vodhanel was placed on probation for five years.

According to the Board’s Accusation, Vodhanel was convicted of a crime substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a psychologist.

On or about March 17, 2007, Vodhanel was arrested after being stopped by police, who had observed her driving five miles per hour, talking on her cell phone and obstructing traffic; remaining stopped for fifteen seconds after the traffic light had turned green and making an unsafe turn. She was further observed to have watery, bloodshot eyes and her face was flushed; she was unable to complete the Field Sobriety Test, was unable to complete a breath test at the police station and refused to submit to a blood test.

Vodhanel pleaded guilty May 22, 2007 to reckless driving and was placed on 36 months probation.

On or about April 27, 2007, while driving, Vodhanel collided her vehicle into the rear of another vehicle at a red light then drove away without giving her information to the other driver, who called 911. Responding officers noted a strong odor of alcohol on Vodhanel’s breath, in addition to that of vomit. She again failed to complete the Field Sobriety Test but her Chemical Test revealed a blood alcohol level of 16/16.

She pleaded no contest to failure to stop and driver of her identification after an accident and was sentenced to 60 months probation with 4 days to be served in Los Angeles County Jail. She was also prohibited from operating a motor vehicle for one year.

Source: First Amended Accusation in the Matter of the Accusation Against Lois Vodhanel, Psychologist License No. PSY 14646, Case No. 1f-2007-182468, December 24, 2008 and Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order, effective September 30, 2009.

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