Psych Crime Reporter

January 28, 2011

“Pill mill” psychiatrist Nathan Kuemmerle pleads guilty to prescription drug charge

Filed under: crime and fraud,psychiatrist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 5:41 am
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A West Hollywood psychiatrist who operated a “pill mill,” in which thousands of prescriptions for addictive drugs were written for cash, pleaded guilty today to a single charge of distribution of a controlled substance.

Upon entering his plea, Dr. Nathan Kuemmerle, 38, of Hollywood, told U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee that he had recently completed treatment for drug addiction.

Gee set an April 18 sentencing date for Kuemmerle, who faces a potential penalty of up to five years in federal prison, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Kuemmerle was arrested last April at his home by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and Redondo Beach police.

Kuemmerle’s office manager, Antonie “Tony” Phillips, 29, of Koreatown, was arrested the same day at the doctor’s clinic on Santa Monica Boulevard, and has since pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge, according to Thom Mrozek of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Kuemmerle wrote more prescriptions for the largest available dosage of Adderall than any other doctor in California, and that he wrote 3 1/2 times more Adderall prescriptions than the No. 2 two prescriber of the drug.

The investigation began in 2009, when Redondo Beach police arrested an individual who offered Adderall for sale on the Craigslist website, Mrozek said.

That person fingered Kuemmerle as the source of the Adderall, claiming the psychiatrist wrote prescriptions on numerous occasions without any medical examination, and that he would write prescriptions for various names during a single visit, according to Mrozek.

After analyzing Kuemmerle’s prescribing history and reviewing secret tapes made at the clinic, San Diego-based psychiatrist Dr. Steven Ornish concluded there was  “overwhelming evidence that Dr. Kuemmerle is running a quintessential ‘pill mill,’ according to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint.

The affidavit in which Ornish’s report is summarized states that during 2009, Kuemmerle wrote more prescriptions for the largest available dosage of amphetamine salts — the generic name for Adderall — than any other doctor in California, and that he wrote 3 1/2 times more amphetamine salts prescriptions than the No. 2 two prescriber of the drug.

According to the affidavit, Kuemmerle was found to be the state’s second-largest prescriber of all Schedule II drugs, which also include oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin and Norco) and alprazolam (Xanax).

Sources: “WeHo psychiatrist pleads guilty to illegal distribution of prescription drugs,” Beverly Hills Courier, January 27, 2011.

January 24, 2011

Chicago psychologist charged with sexual misconduct, admits same to police

Filed under: mental health,psychologist,sexual abuse,sexual exploitation — Psych Crime Reporter @ 6:11 pm
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A psychologist at the state-run Tinley Park Mental Health Center has been charged with allegedly manipulating and misleading a female patient to perform sex acts in exchange for her release from the facility, then giving her money in an attempt to keep her quiet, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said today.

Dr. Robert Eizinga, 66, of Tinley Park, is charged with sexual misconduct with a person with a disability and with official misconduct.

Eizinga has been employed by the Illinois Department of Human Services for more than 20 years, according to court filings. At the time of the alleged assaults, he not only counseled patients but was the mental health facility’s court liaison to the state’s attorney’s office and to the Guardianship and Advocacy Commission mental health attorneys.

His victim was a 45-year-old woman who was admitted to the center April 25 suffering from depression, Alvarez said in a news release. Eizinga told her he had a sex addiction and was getting a divorce. The woman complied with his requests for sex acts after Eizinga told her he could keep her in the facility or send her to another one if she refused, Alvarez said.

After their second second sexual encounter, the victim called her sister and told her what had happened, Alvarez said. After the sister complained to someone at Tinley Park Mental Health Center and asked for her sister to be discharged, her sister was.

But before she left, Eizinga gave her $20 and his business card with his cell phone number written on it, Alvarez said. He later drove to her house and took her to a cell phone store where he bought her a phone. The next day, Eizinga returned to the house, gave here $100 and asked her not to call police because he could lose his job, Alvarez continued.

Over the following week, Eizinga and the woman spoke several times via the cell phone he had purchased for her. Eizinga told her that he had spoken with his sex therapist, who advised him to give the woman money to “keep her mouth shut.”

The woman filed a complaint against Eizinga on May 12, and Eizinga was put on administrative leave, Alvarez said. He then called the woman and asked her how much money it would take to not take the matter to court. The woman hung up on him, Alvarez said.

Eizinga later admitted to investigators that he had had sex with the woman. He also claimed the woman had asked him for $500 and a bus ticket to Atlanta. He claimed he gave her $400 and dropped her off at the Greyhound bus terminal.

Eizinga appeared in bond court in Bridgeview on Thursday, where his bail was set at $150,000.

Source: Psychologist charged with assaulting patient at Tinley Park mental center, Chicago Tribune, January 21, 2011.

January 10, 2011

More complaints surface against psychiatrist Karl Strelnick

Filed under: psychiatric rape,psychiatrist,sexual abuse,sexual exploitation — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:43 pm

The latest complaint against Milwaukee psychiatrist Karl Strelnick to the state’s Medical Examining Board is the ninth allegation of wrongdoing brought against him since 1984, documents obtained by the Journal Sentinel show.

Strelnick, who was suspended without pay from his job at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex in August, is scheduled to appear before the County’s Personnel Review Board on Tuesday to try to get his job back.

The records, provided to the newspaper through a records request to the state, show for the first time the number of complaints against Strelnick to the state’s licensing board.

In handling those complaints, the board twice disciplined Strelnick, while the other earlier cases were dismissed.

In one of those cases, reported last month by the newspaper, state Department of Justice investigators felt a woman’s allegations that Strelnick repeatedly had sex with her while she was a patient at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex were credible.

However, the agency declined to pursue charges because they worried that the stress of testifying could lead her to commit suicide. They referred the matter to the Medical Examining Board, which cited similar witness issues in dismissing the case.

The most recent investigation, opened last month, relates to the case of a woman who became pregnant at the complex after having sex with another patient, despite orders from her guardian that she be placed on birth control shots.

The Journal Sentinel reported in August that complex officials did not notify the woman’s guardian for weeks of the pregnancy, while she remained on drugs known to be harmful to fetuses.

After the pregnancy was discovered, the patient was transferred to a ward overseen by Strelnick.

Following the newspaper’s investigation, Strelnick, 61, was suspended without pay from his job at the complex.

Strelnick and his lawyer have refused repeated requests for comment.

Strelnick was hired by the county in 1991, despite having had his license suspended for two years in 1987 after he admitted having sex with two patients while in private practice in Madison. Before that, he was reprimanded in 1984 after he was unable to provide proof that he took continuing medical education credits as he had claimed.

The newly obtained records show that four complaints against Strelnick – filed in 1988, 1989, 1997 and one from 2010 – were dismissed without an investigation. Two others, filed in 2006 and 2007, prompted investigations, but were without any action against Strelnick.

One of those involved the patient who claimed Strelnick had sex with her. The other involved the starvation death of Cindy Anczak, a patient of Strelnick’s at the complex.

The investigation begun last month remains open.

Restrictions removed

After Strelnick was hired by the county in 1991, Jon Gudeman, the former director of the Mental Health Complex, petitioned the licensing board six times for restrictions against Strelnick’s license to be removed. Ultimately they were.

After Gudeman left the county, he was appointed to the Medical Examining Board in 2003 by then-Gov. Jim Doyle. His term expired in July 2007. Gudeman did not vote on matters concerning Strelnick.

Gudeman told the Journal Sentinel he does not recall any matters involving Strelnick while he was on the board.

“Nothing at all,” Gudeman said.

Board records show action on the investigations opened in 2006 and 2007 came after Gudeman left the board.

Last month, the Journal Sentinel reported that records showed investigators for the state, unable to find enough evidence in 2007 to criminally charge Strelnick in the case where a patient alleged he had sex with her, thought there was enough information to refer the matter to the state licensing board.

“We gathered significant information in the case,” Thomas Storm, director of the state Department of Justice’s Medicaid Fraud Unit, said in an interview. “If we thought it was totally without merit, we wouldn’t waste their time.”

In that case, the patient said Strelnick had sex with her several times at the complex in 2002. She came forward in late 2006, after Journal Sentinel stories about the death of Anczak.

The patient who alleged Strelnick had sex with her had been charged with drunken driving for the fifth time and was sent to the complex after sheriff deputies worried that she would commit suicide. After she was convicted, she was transferred to Taycheedah Correctional Institute in 2002 and served nine years.

State Department of Justice investigators said they found her to be credible but worried the stress of making her testify could lead her to be suicidal.

Notes from the Medical Examining Board’s investigation, provided to the newspaper, show investigators came to a similar conclusion.

The board’s prosecuting attorney indicated there was a lack of independent evidence, so the case would turn largely on the witnesses’ credibility.

Because the woman had such an extensive criminal history, Jack Zweig, the board’s attorney, wrote “We would have no reasonable probability of meeting our burden of proof at a hearing.”

Another woman has come forward in recent months to say that she and Strelnick had sex regularly while she was a patient of his in Madison in the 1980s.

The woman, now a medical doctor in New York, filed a complaint against Strelnick with the Medical Examining Board. The board voted not to pursue action, saying Strelnick had been disciplined for his behavior during that era.

Those same board members, however, voted to open a new investigation of Strelnick’s handling of the pregnant patient’s case.

Complaints against Karl Strelnick

Here is a look at how the state Medical Examining Board has handled complaints against psychiatrist Karl Strelnick:

• 1984: Strelnick is reprimanded after he is unable to provide proof that he took continuing medical education credits as he had claimed.

• 1987: Strelnick’s medical license is suspended for two years after he admits having sex with two patients during therapy while he is in private practice in Madison.

• 1988: A complaint is filed alleging professional misconduct. The case is dismissed without an investigation.

• 1989: Another complaint is filed alleging professional misconduct. Again, it is dismissed without an investigation.

• 1997: A third complaint is filed alleging professional misconduct. It is dismissed without an investigation.

• 2006: The board opens an investigation after the Journal Sentinel reports the starvation death of Cindy Anczak, one of Strelnick’s patients. State investigators say Strelnick is negligent in the death, but so are other medical workers at the complex. The case is closed the following year with no action taken.

• 2007: An investigator for the state’s Department of Justice refers to the board the case of a woman who claims to have had sex with Strelnick at the complex. Strelnick denies the charge. The investigator says he finds the woman’s claims to be credible but he is worried that the stress of a trial would be dangerous to her health. The examining board closes the case without any action.

• 2010: A former patient of Strelnick’s, a medical doctor from New York, files a complaint saying that she had sex with Strelnick each week for more than three years while she was a patient of his in the early 1980s in Madison. The case is dismissed without an investigation because board members say he was disciplined for that same kind of behavior during the same time frame.

• 2010: The board opens a case related to the handling of a developmentally disabled woman who got pregnant at the complex after she had sex with another patient.   A Journal-Sentinel investigation found the woman’s guardian had not been told about the pregnancy for weeks.  After the pregnancy was discovered, she was transferred to a ward overseen by Strelnick.

Source: Meg Kissinger, “More Strelnick complaints surface,” Jornal-Sentinel, January 9, 2010.

January 6, 2011

Psychologist Kenneth Roberson placed on probation over treatment of patient who committed suicide

Filed under: psychologist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 9:36 pm

On June 28, 2010, the California Board of Psychology placed the license of Kenneth E. Roberson, Ph.D. on five years probation with terms and conditions.

According to the Board’s Accusation, Roberson committed the following acts or omissions in the treatment of a patient who ultimately committed suicide:

(a) Stated to the Board that the patient never directly or indirectly stated that she wanted to kill herself.  The Board found numerous mentions of such in Roberson’s treatment notes and so find that he either displayed lack of adequate knowledge or familiarity with the patient’s case or that he misrepresented the patient’s history/condition to the Board;

(b) Represented that during the 13 years he treated her, there was nothing that he judged in the patient’s case to be overt plans, thoughts or desires to kill herself.  Again, the Board found this to be either Roberson’s lack of familiarity with the case or his own misrepresentation to the Board and

(c) Roberson’s failure to adequately and/or properly assess and/or monitor the potential for and/or determine the severity of the patient’s suicide risk.  Additionally, the Board found, among other things, that Roberson repeated failed to recognize and/or overlooked and/or misinterpreted and/or lacked adequate knowledge regarding numerous aspects of the patient’s history and conditions related to risks for self-harm or suicide.

Terms of probation include having his practice monitored by a Board-approved monitor and reimbursement to the Board of its costs of $7,000 for investigation and enforcement.

Source: Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order and Accusation in the Matter of the Accusation Against Kenneth E. Roberson, Ph.D., Psychologist’s License No. PSY 11958, Case No. 1F-2007-182250, Board of Psychology Department of Consumer Affairs State of California.

Psychiatrist William H. Lundy surrenders license

Filed under: psychiatrist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 9:23 pm

On December 6, 2010, the State of Rhode Island Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline issued a Consent Order on psychiatrist William Howard Lundy by which he voluntarily surrendered his medical license.

The Board’s document indicates that this action was taken to settle the charges against him, citing that the Board “received a complaint that alleged [Lundy] engaged in unprofessional conduct” and that he “admits that the conduct alleged in the complaint, if accepted by the Board, would constitute ‘unprofessional conduct’ [and] would result in the imposition of discipline upon him.”

The document gives no further specifics about the allegations against him.

Source: Consent Order in the Matter of William Howard Lundy, M.D., License No. MD 04900, Case No. C10-085, State of Rhode Island Department of Health Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline.

State reprimands psychiatrist George Soncrant, limits prescribing privileges

Filed under: controlled substances,psychiatrist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 9:21 pm

On October 20, 2010, the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board issued a Final Decision and Order, reprimanding psychiatrist George D. Soncrant.

The Board’s document states that Soncrant, in his treatment and prescribing to three patients, neglected to, among other things:

  • perform physical examinations
  • order diagnostic tests
  • perform drug screens to determine what drugs the patient was taking
  • contact prior or concurrent health care providers or obtain their records to confirm treatment/drug histories

In one case, a patient was concurrently obtaining methadone from both Soncrant and her “former” healthcare provider and had recently been convicted of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.

In another case, another patient was found to visit multiple physicians for prescriptions, visited ERs for drugs, had been jailed on a drug offense at age 15 and was a daily marijuana smoker.

In addition to the reprimand, the state placed the following limitations on Soncrant’s license:  As of January 20, 2011, Soncrant shall not order, prescribe or administer any opioid or opiate for more than 30 days in any 12-month period and he must pay the Board its costs of the proceeding against him ($3,575).

Source: Final Decision and Order LS0906053MED in the Matter of the Disciplinary Proceedings Against George D. Soncrant, D.O., Case Nos. 06MED192 and 09MED195, State of Wisconsin Medical Examining Board.

January 5, 2011

Psychologist John DeVincent placed on probation; meth problem, awoke in department store afterhours

Filed under: controlled substances,psychologist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 5:33 am

On September 25, 2010, the California Board of Psychology placed John DeVincent, Psy.D. on probation for five years with terms and conditions.

According to the Board’s Accusation, on or about May 3, 2010, DeVincent fell asleep inside a Macy’s department store before the store had closed and became locked inside.  Upon awakening, he searched for an exit and tripped an alarm inside the store that brought the police to the scene.  The police searched DeVincent after arriving at the store and found crystal amphetamine in his pocket along with a straw for snorting it.

DeVincent admitted to the Board that he has an addiction to methamphetamine and has used used the substance since 2008, snorting it on a frequency that gradually increased to daily use by May 2010.

Terms and conditions of his probation include monitoring of his practice by a Board-approved practice monitor, successful completion of a Board-approved substance abuse treatment program and reimburse of the Board’s investigation costs of $2,665, among other things.

Source: Accusation and Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order in the Matter of the Accusation Against John DeVincent, Psy.D., Psychologist License No. PSY 21016, Case No. 1F-2010-206758, Board of Psychology, Department of Consumer Affairs, State of California.

State of Maine denies license to psychiatrist James C. Cooper for misconduct

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 5:26 am
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On November 9, 2010, the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine (“Board”) voted unanimously to deny psychiatrist James C. Cooper’s appeal of the Board’s preliminary denial of his application for permanent licensure.

According to the Board’s Decision and Order, Cooper committed unprofessional conduct while temporarily licensed as a locum tenens psychiatrist at Pen Bay Medical Center and its subsidiary, Mid-Coast Mental Health in Rockland, Maine from October 6, 2008 to April 3, 2009 (Cooper is also currently license in the states of Idaho, Indiana and Vermont).

Specifically, the document states that Cooper saw a 12-year-old patient who was referred to him in the absence of the boy’s regular psychiatrist and that Cooper carried on a consultation with the boy, despite the mother’s concerns that Cooper “did not appear to know why [the boy] had been referred to him or for what reason.”  The mother requested that the consultation be postponed until Cooper could confer with the boy’s referring health care providers but Cooper ignored the mother’s request.

The document further states that in the presence of the boy, Cooper advised the mother that her son needed to be hospitalized, despite having never reviewed the patient notes of the boy’s regular psychiatrist nor having contacted the boy’s therapist or primary care physician.  When the mother and son objected, Cooper threatened to report her to state social services agency, which he advised might respond by taking custody of her two children.  (Both the mother and Cooper filed reports with social services and the case was briefly investigated and closed without further action.)

Source: Decision and Order IN RE: James C. Cooper, M.D., Licensure Disciplinary Action, Complaint CR-09-003/CR 10-135, Maine State Board of Licensure in Medicine.

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