Psych Crime Reporter

September 30, 2013

Psychiatric nurse struck off for sex with patient

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 4:17 pm

A nurse has been reprimanded and suspended after embarking on a sexual relationship with a psychiatric patient from the hospital he worked at and taking her prescription medication.

Leslie James Hill-Murray, 52, a former nurse at the Austin Hospital, was working night shift in the acute psychiatric unit in June 2010 when he met the patient, a 40-year-old woman.

The pair spoke about his living arrangements and within three weeks, he had moved into her home and they were in a sexual relationship.

In September, after a fight fuelled by his drinking and consumption of prescription drugs – including the woman’s opiates – police took out an intervention order against Mr Hill-Murray on the woman’s behalf.

Police later decided not to lay any charges against Mr Hill-Murray, who had been verbally and physically abusive towards the woman, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard.

The nurse also told police that the abuse had been ongoing during the brief relationship. Police notified the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, who decided to take action.

Days after the fight between the woman and Mr Hill-Murray, he was admitted as a voluntary patient at The Alfred hospital, where he confessed to the illicit relationship with his former patient and his use of prescription opiates to nurses.

Nurses also notified authorities and the board suspended Mr Hill-Murray in September 2010.

In their recently published finding, VCAT members Mary Archibald and Marietta Bylhouwer affirmed the board’s suspension and banned Mr Hill from applying for his registration again for 12 months, effective from August 30.

“We are firmly of the view that the conduct of having sexual relationships with a former patient and physical and verbal abuse of a former patient does fall short – to a substantial degree – of the standard of conduct observed or approved by members of the profession of good repute and competency,” the members said.

“Such conduct is a deliberate departure from the accepted standards as to portray an indifference and an abuse of the privilege which accompany registration as a nurse.”

The members said that if, after 12 months, Mr Hill-Murray was determined to be a fit and proper person, he could regain his registration.

“It is important that the public be protected from this conduct,” the members said. “It should in no way be looked at as if it is trivial or anything of that nature. It is conduct of a very serious matter. At this particular time, we cannot be satisfied that there is not likely to be a repetition of this conduct.”

The members also emphasised that other members of the nursing profession must be sent a strong message that Mr Hill-Murray’s behaviour was unacceptable.

Source: Adrian Lowe, “Austin Hospital nurse struck off over sex with patient,” The Age, September 25, 2013.

Psych hospital failed to protect dignity and well-being of patients

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 4:17 pm

A mental health hospital in Tottenham has failed to meet minimum standards of patient care and welfare, according to an independent report.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said St Ann’s Hospital, in St Ann’s Road, needed to take action to protect the welfare of people who are admitted.

The report into the hospital, which is run by the Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust, was published last month.

During the inspection it was discovered that seclusion rooms – where patients are put when they are a risk to others – were being used as extra bed space.

In the report, inspectors said: “One member of staff on Haringey Assessment Ward told us there were not enough beds for the number of patients needing to be admitted.

“They told us the trust was using seclusion rooms to admit patients into temporarily until beds were found.”

Inspectors found that seclusion rooms, which are unfurnished except for a mattress, had been used as patient bedrooms for 29 nights between the May 6 and June 24 of this year.

In some instances patients sleeping in the rooms had to be woken up so dangerous patients could be put in isolation.

The report found the practice “affected the dignity and wellbeing” of people who used the service.

A member of staff at the hospital also told inspectors that when someone who does not need to be isolated is in the seclusion room there is supposed to be an open door policy.

However inspectors found that the door is locked “due to risk” and patients must ask to leave.

Anita Hudson, the chief executive of the mental health charity Mind in Haringey, said it was shocking that some of most vulnerable people in society were being treated in this way.

She went on to criticise the trust’s plans for the redevelopment for the hospital which will see the number of bedrooms reduced from 50 to around 35.

Ms Hudson said: “The number of people who suffer from mental illness is set to double in next 20 years.

“They don’t have enough beds for the patients they have now so how can they hope to cope when they reduce the number of beds available.

“It’s like me getting married and planning to have kids but at the same time I move into a one-bedroom house which I plan to live in for the next ten years.”

The CQC ordered the trust to provide a report to outlining what improvement will be made to address the situation by September 11.

A spokesman for the mental health trust said the care and welfare of patients is a top priority and it has taken immediate action to address the concerns raised.

She said: “Because of an exceptionally high demand for inpatient beds which is being experienced nationally, we have occasionally had to use alternatives for emergency out of hours admissions.

“This is an exceptional and temporary measure as the patient is moved as soon as we have the capacity on one of our wards.

“We continue to work with our service users to respond to their individual needs and to ensure they have access to high quality treatment.”

Source: Jaber Mohamed, “Care Quality Commission finds St Ann’s Hospital, in Tottenham, failed to protect dignity and wellbeing of patients,” Haringey Independent, September 24, 2013.

Puerto Rico psychiatrist arrested for sex trafficking of a minor

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 4:16 pm

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The United States Customs and Enforcement (ICE) agency says a Puerto Rican psychiatrist has been arrested for transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and sex trafficking of a minor.

On Saturday, the ICE said the arrest was made by its Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, working jointly with Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force officers.

HSI special agents arrested Gerardo V. Navarro-Rodriguez at his medical office in Caguas, Puerto Rico after an investigation revealed he allegedly “induced, coerced and enticed at least one 17-year-old male to engage in commercial sexual acts.”

The investigation was spurred by a referral from the Puerto Rico Police Department, ICE said.

According to the criminal complaint, Navarro-Rodriguez was a psychiatrist working for APS Healthcare Puerto Rico. APS is a private corporation contracted by the Puerto Rican government and is the sole provider of mental health services under The Puerto Rico Health Reform, “Mi Salud.”

In his position as a psychiatrist for APS, Dr. Navarro-Rodriguez provided, among other things, psychiatric therapy sessions to children and adolescent victims of sexual abuse.

From about October 2011 through May, a male minor identified as John Doe was a patient of Dr. Navarro-Rodriguez.

The criminal complaint alleges that, during this period, the doctor committed lewd acts and sexual assault against the victim on several occasions.

If convicted, Navarro-Rodriguez faces between 10 years and life in prison.

The investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers.

Source: “Puerto Rican psychiatrist arrested on child exploitation, sex trafficking charges,”, September 29, 2013.

September 26, 2013

Counselor Leann Richardson convicted of Medicaid fraud

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 9:49 am

Leann Richardson, 48, of Edmond, Oklahoma, pled guilty today to health care fraud in connection with a scheme to bill Medicaid for behavioral counseling services never provided, announced Sanford C. Coats, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma. The Medicaid Program provides federal and state funds to pay for health care benefits for individuals who cannot afford necessary medical expenses.

Richardson is a licensed professional counselor approved to bill the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (“OHCA”) for behavioral counseling to Medicaid-eligible children. OHCA is the state government agency responsible for receiving, reviewing, and paying Medicaid claims. According to the Information filed in the case, Richardson fraudulently billed OHCA for purported therapy sessions with certain Medicaid beneficiaries twice per week, when she sometimes only saw the children once per week. The Information also alleged that Richardson took two personal trips to Colorado in 2010, but fraudulently billed OHCA for more than 80 behavioral counseling sessions with Medicaid-eligible children during those days when she was out of town. At today’s plea hearing, Richardson admitted that she caused bills to be submitted to Medicaid for counseling services not provided, including false claims for counseling when she was out of town.

Today, Richardson pled guilty to one count of health care fraud. Her punishment for the offense could be as much as ten years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. In a plea agreement, she also agrees to pay restitution for the amount of her false billing, to be determined by the court. Sentencing will take place in approximately ninety days.

This charge is the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, the Oklahoma Department of Health, and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Oklahoma Office of Attorney General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris M. Stephens.

Source: “Licensed Counselor Pleads Guilty to Health Care Fraud,” news release of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma, September 17, 2013.

Universal Health Services’ Riveredge Hospital put suicidal patient in jeopardy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 9:48 am

Diana*, of Janesville, Wisc., said goodbye to her 47-year-old comatose daughter in a hospital room at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood on June 12.

“She was beautiful when we saw her. The nurses had French-braided her hair and her face was beautiful,” said. “But I’m a nurse and I took one look and knew she was gone.”

The comatose woman, Kristine, mother of two from Buffalo Grove, had been admitted to Riveredge Hospital, 8311 Roosevelt Road, in Forest Park on June 7, with a diagnosis of major depression with suicidal ideation after a six-week stay at Elgin Mental Health Hospital, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s report.

Early the next morning, Riveredge staff found Kristine with a bed sheet tied around her neck threaded through the slats of a vent in the ceiling. Kristine was alive, her feet touching the floor, but she was unresponsive and was taken by Forest Park ambulance to Loyola.

At the hospital, the woman was kept alive for four days while preparations for organ donation were made by her family, her mother said. Family members gathered to say goodbye at the hospital.

“She was very healthy and didn’t drink or do drugs, and she was an athlete,” her mother said. “So she was able to donate a lot of organs. That’s what kept [the family] going,” she added.

According to the medical examiner’s report, Kristine had been talking about attempting suicide because she feared criminal prosecution for a case pending against her. Diagnosed with major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, she had been arrested in Buffalo Grove a number of times for minor and quirky crimes, according to Waukegan lawyer Mark Vogg, an attorney hired by the family.

Published records show she had been charged with an April 2012 burglary of a car in which she allegedly removed a wallet and checkbook from a neighbor’s parked car overnight, but then returned the wallet between the owner’s screen door and front door with a check for the cash removed.

Her husband told the medical examiner she had also “attempted to blow up the house by cutting the hose that runs into the furnace, thinking it was a gas line,” the report said.

Kristine’s transfer to Riveredge in Forest Park was a decision made by health professionals without knowledge of her husband or family, Vogg said.

“She checked in at 3 p.m. on a Friday afternoon and 12 hours later she was dead,” Vogg said.

Didn’t want to go back to jail

The journey to Riveredge began after one of her brushes with the law, Vogg said. He did not give details of the incident that put Kristine into police custody. Kristine was placed in Lake County Jail in April 2013. After it became clear the jail setting was severely aggravating her mental health problems, a judge placed her into a program for mentally ill offenders and she was transferred to Elgin Mental Health facility on April 18.

She stayed there for six weeks, according to records, and then was evaluated and found to be stabilized and able to be released back into the custody of the Lake County Sheriff.

But, when told that she was going back into police custody June 7, Kristine took a chair and broke a window of the Elgin facility, a report from that agency said. She admitted to the staff that she was acting out so she would not have to return to Sheriff’s custody and jail.

At that point, arrangements were made “within about 60 minutes” to transfer the patient to Riveredge in Forest Park, Vogg said. Her family was never contacted, her mother and Vogg confirmed.

According to the medical examiner’s report, Kristine attempted to harm herself in the Lake County police vehicle on the way to the hospital by using the seatbelt to choke herself.

When she arrived at Riveredge, physician’s orders said Kristine should be put on suicide, assault and elopement precautions. A doctor instructed hospital staff to check on her every 15 minutes.

At 3 a.m., staff records noted the patient was “in-bed-asleep” but at 3:05, staff was “attempting to free the patient from a sheet she had strung through the vent,” records said.

Her husband, a Danish national, was first informed of his wife’s condition by Loyola hospital.

When asked about the death by Forest Park Review, a spokeswoman at Riveredge emailed a statement saying, “The management and staff of Riveredge Hospital are deeply saddened by the loss of one of its patients and extends its heartfelt sympathy to the patient’s family.” The hospital cited “strict patient confidentiality and privacy laws” as the reason it was “precluded from discussing specific details of any individual case.”

Investigation by state regulators

State investigators and Forest Park police followed up by initiating an investigation June18 and 19. The state regulator report found Riveredge to have put Kristine in danger of ‘Immediate Jeopardy’ by placing her in a room with a ceiling vent that put her at risk of ligature, documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act said.

According to the Illinois Department of Health and Human Services report, Riveredge knew about the ligature risk posed by the ceiling vent covers which were described as “long slat type.” According to the report, Riveredge was “aware of the potential risks of the vent covers, and were in the process of changing the covers to ones with small holes and not slats.” Hospital personnel told investigators they had started switching out the vent grilles between 2007- 2008 to circular mesh screens affixed with tamper resistant screws. But 34 grilles had not been switched out, including the grille in Room 212 where Kristine was placed. That room had a seven-foot ceiling.

On June 19, investigators from the Department of Health and Human Services immediately ordered Riveredge to move 40 patients out of units 1West, 1 South and 2 North until the new screens were in place. The hospital had 106 total patients, the report said, and 61 patients, or 66 percent, were on suicide precautions.

On June 18, Carey Carlock, CEO of Riveredge, instructed the plant operations director to modify all remaining ceiling vent covers with the mesh grille, the IDHHS report said.

Because the grilles were modified quickly, an Illinois Department of Public Health investigation cleared Riveredge of the condition of Immediate Jeopardy after completing their investigation on July 11, said spokeswoman Melaney Arnold. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services do not assess fines to non-compliant hospitals, she said.

Vogg said the family has not yet filed any lawsuit in Kristine’s death.

Incidents in the past and new management

The Chicago Tribune has reported extensively on issues at Riveredge in recent years. In 2009, Riveredge came to the attention of the IDPH for a patient death in 2007, when the hospital failed to report the death of a pregnant patient, Tameka Williams, 27, according to the Tribune. Williams died in the Loyola emergency room after a reaction to an anti-psychotic drug. An employee reported the death to state regulators a year later.

In 2008, officials at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services stopped sending wards of the state to Riveredge because of “serious concerns” after a report of two alleged rapes a day apart of a 19-year-old boy and the fact that the incidents were not reported to police, nor was the alleged victim given medical treatment. Ten mentally disabled children were reported to have been sexually assaulted at Riveredge between 2004-2007, regulators said.

Since then, the hospital has come under new management. Tennessee-based Psychiatric Solutions, Inc. sold the facility to Pennsylvania-based Universal Health Services, in August, 2010.

“Riveredge remains fully dedicated and committed to its mission of providing the highest quality of care to patients with special, and sometimes complex, mental health needs,” the hospital’s statement said.

Kristine’s June 12 death was reported to state regulators within the required 10 day window, IDPH spokeswoman Arnold confirmed. No fine or censure was given to Riveredge by regulatory agencies because the hospital took steps to correct the items found in the investigation, she said.

Kristine’s husband sold the couple’s home in Buffalo Grove and returned with his children ages 15 and 17 to Denmark, Diana said. “He has a lot of relatives there, and a big support system,” she said.

*The last names of the family members in this story are being withheld, at the family’s request.

Source: Jean Lotus, “Mom’s suicide at Riveredge came 12 hours after transfer,” Forest Park Review, September 23, 2013.

Board suspends social worker Cheryl Metzbower over criminal convictions

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 9:47 am

On September 14, 2012, the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners suspended the license of clinical social worker Cheryl Ann Metzbower.

The Board’s document states that on her 2010 license renewal application, Metzbower answered “no” to the question regarding criminal convictions.

The Board’s investigation determined that in 2009 Metzbower pleaded guilty to assault and was given a suspended sentence and fine and in 2010 pleaded guilty to malicious destruction of property, for which she was sentenced to 60 days in jail with all but seven days suspended.

Additionally, as the time of the Board’s suspension, Metzbower was facing a February 2012 criminal charge of assault.

Ohio social worker disciplinary actions June 2012 to August 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 9:47 am

The following social worker were disciplined by the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, Marriage & Family Therapist Board for failure to comply with continuing education requirements for licensure.

On August 8, 2013, the Board revoked Keith R. Cherry’s license.

On July 22, 2013, the Board revoked Jennifer Hosek’s license.

On July 22, 2013, the Board revoked E. Bobette Arnold’s license.

On July 22, 2013, the Board revoked Kathleen H. Jones’ license.

On July 20, 2012, the Board revoked Jeremy Dowell’s license.

On July 19, 2013, Cheryl A. McRae surrendered her license to the Board.

On July 5, 2013, Arthur Mandara surrendered his license to the Board.

On May 9, 2013, Michelle Croston surrendered her license to the Board.

On May 5, 2013, Carol Allegretti surrendered her license to the Board.

On April 18, 2013, Ann Chambers-Harris surrendered her license to the Board.

On March 22, 2013, the Board revoked Rebecca Barlow’s license.

On September 20, 2012, the Board revoked Michael F. Dyess’ license.

On July 20, 2012, the Board revoke social worker Ada M. Jones’ license.

On July 20, 2012, the Board revoked social worker Connie DeBarr’s license.

On July 20, 2012, the Board revoked Ronald Bocsa’s license.

State issues counselor license to former psychiatrist Marc Pellicciaro

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 9:46 am

On May 22, 2013, the Washington State Department of Health (DoH) granted a credential to Marc D. Pellicciaro to practice as an agency affiliated counselor.

Terms of licensure include Pellicciaro obtaining a substance abuse evaluation through the state Physicians Health Program and other terms.

Pellicciaro is a psychiatrist who was formerly licensed to practice medicine in both Alaska and Washington. In late January 2009, he learned that he was under investigation by the Alaska Medical Board for drug abuse, as well as for practicing on a lapsed license and voluntarily surrendered his license to practice in Alaska.

On July 23, 2009, the DoH served Pellicciaro with a Statement of Charges and other documents relative to the Alaska investigation. Pellicciaro never responded to the DoH’s communications. On September 3, 2009, (DoH) suspended Pellicciaro for unprofessional conduct.

State suspends mental health counselor Holly Vashti George for sex with client

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 9:46 am

On May 24, 2013, the Washington State Department of Health (DoH) censured mental health counselor Holly Vashti George (aka Holly Vashti Jones) and suspended her for no less than one year.

According to the DoH’s statement of charges, George entered into a sexual relationship with a patient.

George met the patient in March 2011 at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and began treating him in August 2011. During treatment, she hugged, held, caressed and made sexual comments to the patient on several occasions.

Jones allowed the patient to stay overnight at her house and shared personal information with him, including details of her family and marital situation. She additionally purchased an airline ticket for him to accompany her and several others to Hawaii, where the two stayed in a villa she’d rented.

The patient evidently began treatment with another mental health care provider about a month later. In March 2012, the patient attempted suicide. The DoH’s document states that the patient’s “fear and depression from his experience with [George] were a cause of his attempted suicide.”

State issues charges against counselor who told patient he’d marry her

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 9:45 am

On May 24, 2013, the Washington State Department of Health issued a statement of charges against mental health counselor Michael F. Vaughn, alleging that between October 17, 2012 and October 26, 2012, Vaughn communicated frequently with “Client A” by phone, text and email and that on several days in late October 2012, he allowed the client to stay at his home and sleep on his couch. On October 24, he told the client he loved her. On October 25, he told her that they needed to end the therapeutic relationship and not see each other for six month and that after that period, he was going to marry her.

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