Psych Crime Reporter

February 28, 2013

State revokes psychologist Philip D. White’s license, relative to custody evaluation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:56 pm

On July 12, 2012, the Idaho Board of Psychologist Examiners revoked the license of psychologist Philip D. White for no less than five years.

According to the Board’s document, White allegedly conducted a home study evaluation (in a child custody matter) which was in inadequate and failed to include appropriate testing and evaluation.

In 2009, he allegedly agreed to perform a further evaluation at the unilateral request of the mother even though he has previously prepared an independent home study evaluation.

He also allegedly practiced psychology in the state of Washington without a license.

Additionally, in another case in 2007, White allegedly accepted an appointment to conduct a home study evaluation and then later agreed to perform family therapy, resulting in a conflict of interest.


New Jersey revokes psychologist Marsha Kleinman’s license, relative to custody evaluation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:55 pm

On January 5, 2013, the New Jersey Board of Psychological Examiners issued a Final Decision and Order on Marsha Kleinman, Psy.D, revoking her license to practice psychology for no less than one year, with terms and conditions.

The Board’s complaint regarded Kleinman’s treatment of a 3-year-old.

Count 1 of the complaint alleged that she “served in multiple roles including counselor and play therapist, parenting time monitor and forensic evaluator; conducted suggestive, coercive or manipulative questioning of the child to investigate alleged sexual abuse in violation of professional standards and failed to give a balanced assessment of the fact of the case to the court which appointed her and which was determining visitation issues.”

Count 2 alleged, among other things, that Kleinman “failed to obtain reasonably available information to assess whether the child’s emotional distress was attributable to sources other than the alleged sexual abuse by the father.”

Count 3 alleged in part that Kleinman “failed to inform the court of exculpatory information regarding the alleged sexual abuse when it was foreseeable her input would be relied upon in deciding custody and visitation issues.”

Count 4 alleged, among other things, that Kleinman’s “competence, education and training did not qualify her as an expert in the fields she professed—forensic investigations and child sexual abuse—and her findings, recommendations and representations to the Court demonstrate she was deficient in one or more areas of her practice.”

In addition to revocation of her license, the Board required Kleinman to pay monetary penalties in the amount of $60,000 and the Board’s investigation and prosecution costs of $242,644.

Psychiatrist Judith Saperstein Braun suspended, placed on probation for negligence, etc.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:55 pm

On February 14, 2013, the Medical Board of California suspended psychiatrist Judith Saperstein Braun for 30 days and placed her on probation for five years for gross negligence; repeated negligent acts; dishonesty or corruption; violation of drug statutes; prescribing dangerous drugs without appropriate examination; creation of false medical records; false representations and failure to maintain adequate and accurate medical records in her treatment of a patient, to whom she prescribed controlled substances and prescription drugs in the name of the patient’s mother and/or husband; failed to obtain or document an adequate patient medical history, mental status, diagnostic impression or treatment plan.

Counselor admits to sex with client, state suspends license

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:54 pm

The Washington State Department of Health has suspended the credentials of Scott Hale, an “agency affiliated counselor,” based on “charges of sexual misconduct.”

According to the statement of charges available on the DOH’s website, Hale is alleged to have had sex with a patient three times while the patient was in Hale’s care at a mental health care clinic in Burien.

The charges note that Hale admitted to the sexual intercourse to his direct supervisor, and that Hale’s patient was being treated for “the effects of childhood sexual abuse and other mental health conditions.” Hale is being charged with unprofessional conduct, and has 20 days to request a hearing. The DOH notes Hale cannot practice until these charges are resolved.

Source: “Federal Way counselor suspended on charges of sexual misconduct ,” press release of the Washington State Department of Health, February 21, 2013.

Idaho mental health counselor Mark Wiseman charged with sexual exploitation of patient

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:54 pm

A 36-year-old Nampa mental health counselor is accused of sexually exploiting someone in his care, according to police.

Police were called to the 1100 block of South Ada Street at 4 p.m. Saturday to investigate a sex-related crime.

Mark Wiseman, who lives and works in Nampa, was identified as a suspect in the case. Police say he was providing psychotherapy to the victim.

Wiseman was arrested on a charge of sexual exploitation by a medical care provider. Under the law, medical care providers who engage in consensual sexual contact with patients or clients are guilty of exploitation.

If convicted, Wiseman faces a fine of up to $1,000, up to 1 year in jail, or both.

Police suspect there could be other victims. They ask anyone with information to contact Sgt. Donald Peck at 475-5714.

Source: “Nampa counselor charged with sex crime,” Idaho Statesman, February 3, 2013.

February 26, 2013

Psychiatrist loses appeal in lawsuit over inmate’s death

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 2:10 pm

DETROIT (AP) — A federal appeals court says a psychiatrist who prescribed medication can be sued in the death of a 23-year-old Michigan prison inmate.

Scott Quigley Jr. had no life-threatening ailments, but he died suddenly in 2008. Experts hired by his family blame Quigley’s death on a dangerous mix of two antidepressant drugs. The autopsy report lists the cause as an epileptic seizure.

Public officials are immune from civil lawsuits in many cases. But in Quigley’s case, an appeals court agreed with a Detroit federal judge, who said Dr. Tuong Thai isn’t immune because his treatment may have caused the inmate’s death. Quigley was at a prison in Jackson County at the time.

The decision last week means the case will go to trial or be settled.

Source: Doc loses appeal in lawsuit over inmate’s death,, February 26, 2013.

February 25, 2013

Psychiatrist charged with issuing prescriptions for controlled substances without conducting patient exams

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:18 pm

Boca Raton psychiatrist James Cocores was concerned about his patients’ vacation and New Year’s Eve plans and even spent time talking with them about cooking — but not about their symptoms before allegedly prescribing them pain pills, local authorities say.

The 59-year-old’s actions recently caused the Florida Department of Health to place an emergency suspension order on his license, which immediately suspends his license to practice medicine. His actions also caused him to spend almost one day in jail on charges of drug trafficking and writing unlawful prescriptions.

Palm Beach County sheriff’s investigators began looking into the psychiatrist in February 2011 when Crime Stoppers of Palm Beach County received a tip that Cocores was prescribing pain medications to patients without examining them.

Cocores, who used to work at Southcoast Psychotherapy & Education Associates, specialized in drug abuse treatment and opiate addiction.

He opened his own practice where an undercover agent met with him at least nine times from August 2011 to April 2012. The agent told Cocores she was having difficulties after her sibling was removed from life support due to a traffic crash.

The agent said she was already seeing another doctor for pain management but could not obtain her medical records from him because the federal Drug Enforcement Administration shut his office down and seized all his patients’ files.

Cocores then spoke with the agent about doctors inappropriately prescribing oxycodone.

The two met seven times before the agent was prescribed oxycodone pills. Before that Cocores allegedly prescribed her Xanax and Percocet pills without ever examining her. While the agent kept asking for the oxycodone pills, Cocores blamed high prices and the scrutiny surrounding the pill.

However on the seventh visit in February 2012, the agent complained of an upset stomach from the Percocet to which Cocores prescribed 75 oxycodone pills. He told her to come back in one month.

Cocores was released from the Palm Beach County Jail today after posting a $35,000 bond.

Source: Alexandra Seltzer, “State suspends Boca Raton psychiatrist’s license for writing unlawful prescriptions,” Palm Beach Post, February 22, 2013.

Mental health counselor Sheila Loven guilty of sexual assault of client

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 6:15 pm

On February 20, 2013, former Texas mental health counselor Sheila Loven was sentenced to 10 years probation, having been found guilty of sexual assault.

Sheila Loven counseled an Arlington couple to the point of divorce, according to prosecutor Betty Arvin. Loven and the husband had sex for more than two months in 2009 before the couple compared notes and realized how she had deceived them, Arvin said in opening statements Tuesday.

Then, when the couple decided to reconcile, Loven barraged them with calls and text messages until they complained to Arlington police about harassment, Arvin said. After investigating, police concluded that harassment was not the appropriate charge and filed a sexual assault case with the Tarrant County district attorney’s office.

“They didn’t go running to the police yelling that he was sexually assaulted,” Arvin told the jury. “They didn’t know. Most people don’t know. Not only was what Loven doing immoral and unethical, it was illegal.”

Loven’s attorney, Adam Burny, told jurors that the case was about romance and sex between consenting adults. There is no evidence of emotional coercion, Burny said. The husband and Loven were both in troubled relationships, and Loven reached out to the man as if he were a friend, Burny said. From there, romance blossomed.

“It had all the elements of any other romantic relationship,” Burny said. “They went out to nightclubs and dinner, and they spent almost every night together. What you will not see in this case is any evidence of manipulation.”

Arvin said the manipulation was manifest from the beginning. When the couple initially came in for counseling, Loven talked to them in the same room, Arvin said. Later, she saw them individually and counseled them separately to better collect their secrets, secrets they had kept from each other, Arvin said.

She denigrated them to each other, Arvin said. Finally, Loven advised the wife to get a divorce. Then she invited the husband on a date. They went to Cowboys nightclub in Arlington, drank and danced, and days later began having sex, an affair that lasted from the end of June until mid-September 2009, Arvin said.

Loven stopped office sessions with the husband but continued to have sex with him, while continuing to counsel his wife, Arvin said. Then one day, Loven acknowledged to the wife that the reason her husband had suddenly asked for a divorce after months of trying to make their marriage work is because he had found someone new — and that was Loven.

The husband and wife reconciled and saw that instead of trying to help them, Loven was trying to drive a wedge between them.

“She was the ultimate inside trader,” Arvin said. “She got information about their lives that they had never shared with anyone and she used it, she twisted it for her own sick reasons.”

Source: Mitch Mitchell, “Marriage counselor deceived couple, prosecutor says at sexual assault trial,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, February 13, 2013.

Mental health counselor Nichole Eckert sentenced to 48 months prison in $205 million fraud scheme

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 5:37 pm

Miami-area resident Nichole Eckert, former therapist at the mental health care company American Therapeutic Corporation (ATC), was sentenced today to serve 48 months in prison for participating in a $205 million Medicare fraud scheme.

The sentence was announced today by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; Special Agent-in-Charge Michael B. Steinbach of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent-in-Charge Christopher Dennis of the Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami office.

Eckert, 35, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz in the Southern District of Florida.  In addition to the prison term, Judge Seitz sentenced Eckert to serve three years of supervised release and ordered her to pay more than $72 million in restitution, jointly and severally with her co-defendants.

On Nov. 15, 2012, a federal jury in the Southern District of Florida found Eckert guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud after a 16-day trial.  She has been in federal custody since her conviction.

Evidence at trial demonstrated that the defendant and her co-conspirators caused the submission of false and fraudulent claims to Medicare through ATC, a Florida corporation headquartered in Miami that operated purported partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) in seven different locations throughout South Florida and Orlando.  A PHP is a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness. The defendant and her co-conspirators also used a related company, American Sleep Institute, to submit fraudulent Medicare claims.

Evidence at trial revealed that ATC secured patients by paying kickbacks to assisted living facility owners and halfway house owners who would then steer patients to ATC. These patients attended ATC, where they were ineligible for the treatment ATC billed to Medicare and where they did not receive the treatment that was billed to Medicare.  After Medicare paid the claims, some of the co-conspirators then laundered the Medicare money in order to create cash to pay the patient kickbacks.

Eckert was a therapist at ATC’s Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., center from September 2005 to September 2007, and returned to ATC as a therapist from late 2009 to October 2010, when ATC closed its doors as a result of federal charges.  Evidence at trial revealed that Eckert fabricated therapist notes and other documents for patient files and submissions, and taught others to fabricate them, to make it appear both that ATC patients were qualified for PHP treatment and that they were receiving the intensive, individualized treatment PHP is supposed to be.  ATC used those patient files to substantiate false and fraudulent claims to Medicare.  Included in these submissions were claims for patients who were in the late stages of diseases causing permanent cognitive memory loss and patients who had substance abuse issues and were living in halfway houses.  These patients were ineligible for PHP treatments, and because they were forced by their assisted living facility owners and halfway house owners to attend ATC, they were not receiving treatment for the diseases they actually had.

ATC and related company Medlink pleaded guilty in May 2011 to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. ATC also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and to pay and receive illegal health care kickbacks. On Sept. 16, 2011, the two corporations were sentenced to five years of probation per count and ordered to pay restitution of $87 million. Both corporations have been defunct since their owners were arrested in October 2010.  Dozens of individuals have been convicted at trial or pleaded guilty for their participation in the scheme.

Evidence at trial showed that the ATC scheme resulted in a total of $205 million in fraudulent Medicare billings.

The cases were prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Jennifer L. Saulino and Trial Attorney Laura M.K. Cordova of the Justice Department Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.  The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,480 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $4.8 billion.  In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Source: “Miami-Area Therapist Sentenced to Prison in Florida in $205 Million Community Mental Health Fraud SchemeDepartment of Justice,” press release of the Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs, January 28, 2013.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 5:12 pm

Psychologist Rhett McCarty defrauded the U.S. government of more than $1 million

February 25, 2013

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a psychologist practicing in the Lebanon, Mo., area was sentenced in federal court today for engaging in a $1 million scheme to defraud Medicare and Medicaid.

“Those who defraud the government are stealing from the pockets of law-abiding taxpayers,” Dickinson said. “This psychologist flagrantly abused the system to enrich himself for more than three years, but today he is being held accountable for his actions.”

Rhett E. McCarty, 67, of Lake Ozark, Mo., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs to three years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered McCarty to pay $1 million in restitution to Medicaid and Medicare.

McCarty was a licensed psychologist and private practitioner who provided psychotherapy services to recipients of both Medicare and Medicaid in their homes in the Lebanon area. On Aug. 16, 2012, McCarty pleaded guilty to health care fraud and to forgery.

“Rhett McCarty violated the trust extended to him by the American taxpayers to provide medical services to our Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries,” said Special Agent in Charge Gerry Roy of the Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General. “He is now being held responsible for his violations. At HHS-OIG, we will continue to work with our federal and state law enforcement and prosecution partners to ensure the solvency and integrity of our federally-funded health care programs.”

Between Sept. 17, 2008, and April 5, 2012, McCarty submitted Medicare and Medicaid claims for daily or near daily psychotherapy services to 19 beneficiaries for which he was paid $1,276,334. According to the claims that McCarty submitted, he routinely saw beneficiaries seven days per week and worked long hours every day. Moreover, according to McCarty’s claims, he worked every single day of the calendar year from mid-September 2008 through early April 2012, except for Christmas day. McCarty routinely billed for every weekend day and for all holidays except Christmas day.

Although McCarty did provide some services for most of these beneficiaries, he admitted that he did not see those beneficiaries more than once a week. McCarty also admitted that the amount he was paid by Medicare and Medicaid for services he did not provide to these 19 beneficiaries was $1 million.

McCarty also admitted that he forged (or caused another person to forge) the signatures of five of the beneficiaries on patient sign-in sheets in order to obtain $418,507 in Medicare and Medicaid payments.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lucinda S. Woolery. It was investigated by Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, the FBI and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Source: “Psychologist sentenced for $1 million health care fraud,” press release of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri, January 30, 2013.

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