Psych Crime Reporter

January 11, 2013

Psychiatrists charged, disciplined nationwide August-October 2012

Filed under: health care licensing board discipline,mental health,psychiatrist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 3:36 pm

On October 24, 2012, the Virginia Board of Medicine reprimanded psychiatrist Daniel Acosta. The Board’s Consent Order states that on March 13, 2012, the North Carolina Medical Board reprimanded Acosta and ordered that he attend continuing medical education on record keeping and prescribing, based on findings that Acosta’s diagnosis, treatment and documentation of six patients failed to conform to the standards of acceptable and prevailing medical practice.

On September 7, 2012, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs summarily suspended the license of psychiatrist Nan Beth Alt on charges of negligence, lack of good moral character, fraud or deceit in obtaining or attempting to obtain a third party reimbursement and allowing an unauthorized person to use her medical license. The complaint filed against Alt states that allowed her father, also a physician, to work out of her office and also wrote provided pre-signed prescriptions forms for him. The senior Alt’s medical license had previously been suspended.

On August 31, 2012, the Texas Medical Board ordered psychiatrist Robert Alan Woodward to pay an administrative penalty of $5,000 in addition to ordering him successfully complete at least eight hours of continuing medical education on the topic of risk management, among other terms and conditions. According to the Board’s report, this disciplinary action was the result of Woodward having failed to renew his controlled substance prescribing certificate when it expired in November 2010 and wrote more than 500 prescriptions for controlled substances before finally renewing it in March 2011.

On September 17, 2012, the Medical Board of California issued an Accusation against psychiatrist Lana Le Chabrier, relative to Le Chabrier’s criminal conviction. According to the Board’s document, on or about July 12, 2012, Le Chabrier was found guilty of health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud against the Medicare program. Le Chabrier was sentenced to six and a half years prison.

On or about October 18, 2012, Harvard psychiatrist David Herzog surrendered his licensed to the Massachusetts Board of Medicine. Herzog, who founded the Harris Center at Massachusetts General Hospital (an eating disorders center), was found to have engaged in sexual misconduct with a bulimic patient. Administrative findings describe and increasingly friendly relationship between Herzog and the patient, culminating in a sexual encounter in the patient’s home while her husband was away.


October 8, 2012

Psychiatrist William Douglas Wade reprimanded by Australian medical standards committee

Filed under: health care licensing board discipline,psychiatrist,sexual abuse — Psych Crime Reporter @ 2:01 pm

The Health Care Complaints Commission prosecuted Dr William Douglas Wade, a psychiatrist, before a Medical Professional Standards Committee. The prosecution related to Dr Wade’s relationship with a long-standing patient with a complex medical background including chronic PTSD relating to childhood sexual abuse, mood instability, major depression and borderline personality disorder.

The Commission argued that Dr Wade was guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct in that he failed to observe professional boundaries in relation to the patient in that he:

  •    exchanged messages with her on the dating website RSVP
  •    exchanged emails/telephone calls and text messages
  •    suggested they have a personal/sexual relationship
  •    met her for dinner
  •    following the dinner inappropriately touched her, kissed her and commented on her breasts.

The Tribunal found Dr Wade guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct and ordered that he be reprimanded.

The Committee commented that Dr Wade’s conduct warrants strong reprobation and noted:

Dr Wade’s role as Patient A’s treating psychiatrist placed him in a singular position of trust in relation to a particularly vulnerable and fragile patient with a complex psychiatric history.

Source: “Dr William Douglas Wade – reprimanded by a Medical Professional Standards Committee,” press release of the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission, October 4, 2012.

August 14, 2012

Idaho counselors’ and therapists’ licenses revoked, disciplined

Filed under: health care licensing board discipline,mental health counselor,psychotherapist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:57 pm

The Idaho State Board of Professional Counselors and Marriage & Family Therapists recently issued the following disciplinary action documents:

On December 31, 2011, the Board revoked the license of professional counselor Millicent Smith. According to the Board’s Order, during the period of 2005 to 2009, Smith entered into a sexual/romantic relationship with a client, then immediately terminated their professional relationship but continued the romantic relationship until it ended in 2009; engaged in a bartering relationship with another client in which the client provided personal services in Smith’s home in exchange for therapy services, then developed a personal relationship with this client during which Smith sexually touched the client on one occasion in 2008; told a third client in late 2005 that she might need to refer him to another provider because she was attracted to him, while knowing that the client was dealing with the recent ending of a long-term romantic relationship with another person.

On February 7, 2012, the Board placed licensed marriage & family therapist Rodney Limb on practice supervision, among other stipulations. The Board’s Order states that from Fall 2008 to November 2009, Limb periodically counseled a client with whom he briefly entered into a dual personal relationship.

On February 7, 2012, the Board ordered licensed professional counselor Rosalie Johnston to complete a graduate level course in high-conflict divorce and recordkeeping, among other requirements. The Board alleged that in 2008, Johnston failed to follow a court order to aide in the reunification of a father and daughter and failed to turn over the client’s file to a new therapist in a timely manner. Though Johnston denied the Board’s allegations, she nonetheless entered into a stipulated consent order on the matter. In addition to the aforementioned order to complete graduate-level coursework, Johnston must also reimburse the Board its investigative costs and attorney fees of $2,794.

On February 7, 2012, the Board reprimanded licensed professional counselor Talmage Delange. The Board’s document states that on or about July 2003 through September 2009, Delange entered into counseling relationships with multiple family members of an extended family. On or about September 27, 2008, Delange submitted an affidavit to the court which could be interpreted to be a child custody evaluation, which Delange is not trained to render (i.e., it is practicing beyond the scope of his competence and education). The affidavit was biased and omitted relevant information. Delange must also reimburse the Board its investigative costs and attorney fees of $2,880, among other terms of the Board’s order.

On May 1, 2012, the Board reprimanded counselor Robert Stahn and placed terms and restrictions on his practice. The Board’s document states that in 2010, Stahn prepared and disseminated a brochure advertising his practice which contained the false representation of a 100% success rate for treating post-traumatic stress syndrome and also used client testimonials without client consent. Stahn also must complete additional continuing education in the area of ethics and reimburse the Board $1,220 for its investigation costs and attorney fees.

August 8, 2012

Disgraced criminal psychologist Vito Zepinic attempts to redefine response to life’s troubles as mental disorder

Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) recently received a press release with the title “New, Serious Psych Disorder, Its Nature and Treatment in Book”.  It was issued for psychologist Vito Zepinic’s new book, The Self and Complex Trauma.

“Complex Trauma,” says Zepinic “develops when the individual is subject to repeated traumas…and is incapable of escaping it for an extended period of time.”  Zepinic knows a lot about this from personal experience. He most likely made up this “new” disorder as a way to position himself as a mental health expert, since he is unable to obtain employment due to his own dishonesty (more on this later).

Dr. Zepinic says that this disorder is “serious”.  Of course, anyone who has ever gone through tough times–deaths of loved ones, reversals of fortune, broken releationships, disappointed expectations–knows how serious life feels during those times.

But that is not new and it’s certainly not a mental disorder.

Life can be traumatic. How you respond to that trauma is proof of your character but it’s not a mental disorder.

Life can also be full of satisfaction and even joy. CCHR suspects that Dr. Zepinic might be working on another book about a “new” disorder in people who are living quite happily. recently discovered the “new” syndrome of Compulsive Labeling Disorder. The sufferers of this “new, serious” disorder are uniformly mental health “professionals.”

About Zepinic:

Vitomir Zepinic left his native Yugoslavia in the mid-1990s for Australia, where he first registered as a psychologist in 1994. In May 1998, he applied to the Australian Medical Council (AMC) for assessment of his specialist qualifications in psychiatry. The AMC required him to fulfill a period of supervised clinical practice before being eligible to sit for his examination as a psychiatrist. In February 2000, Zepinic filed an application with the Queensland Medical Board for a conditional medical registration, which would allow him to fill a training position in psychiatry. He applied for and was granted a renewal of his conditional registration in May 2001 to continue specialist training as “Senior Medical Officer – Psychiatry.” However, in March 2001, the AMC advised the medical Board that Zepinic was not entitled to advanced standing in medicine/psychiatry as his post-graduate training was in the non-medical subject of psychotherapy.

The reason for the Australian authorities’ reassessment of Zepinic’s qualifications was acquisition of information from the institution in Yugoslavia from which Zepinic had graduated, which had not been available earlier due to the conflicts in Yugoslavia at the time. The Queensland Medical Board cancelled Zepinic’s registration on May 14 2002 noting that he did not have a “valid registrable undergraduate qualification in medicine.”

Zepinic had falsely claimed to have medical degrees from Sarajevo and Belgrade universities and had misled the Medical Boards of New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland, Australia. The Australian licensing authority’s Tribunal’s decision document lists 19 separate occasions between 1996 and 2009 when Zepinic misrepresented his qualifications to licensing boards/councils, prospective employers, a court of law and a publishing company, among others.

He was convicted August 18, 2008 on six counts of having misrepresented himself as a medical doctor. The Psychologists Tribunal of New South Wales subsequently banned Zepinic from practicing for five years. The decision was upheld on appeal on August 12, 2010. He may not reapply for licensure until August 2015.

On March 1, 2010, Zepinic resigned from his position as senior lecturer in psychiatry in the Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry (a position he obtained by misrepresenting his credentials) after school authorities confronted him about his 2008 criminal conviction.

May 3, 2011

California medical board placed psychiatrist Richard A. Hochberg on probation

Filed under: health care licensing board discipline — Psych Crime Reporter @ 11:53 am

n March 1, 2011, the Medical Board of California placed psychiatrist Richard A. Hochberg on probation for three years with terms and conditions.

This action was the result of a complaint filed by the Board against Hochberg, alleging gross negligence in the treatment of five patients, for which he failed to justify/explain his reasoning behind changing his initial diagnoses of paranoid schizophrenia to schizoaffective disorder; the use the same drugs on all patients in a general manner, without specific indications; failure to differentiate or specifically tailor treatment to the patient; prescribed a off-label (for “memory loss”) a drug specifically meant for treating Alzheimer’s or dementia with Parkinson’s disease—without a differential diagnosis, exploration or explanation; prescribed atypical antipsychotics without proper documentation or justification; failure to monitor the side effects of the drugs by not carrying out appropriate blood work; incomplete and redundant, “boilerplate” documentation patient to patient.

Further, Hochberg was disciplined by the Board in 2005 for similar failures, including diagnosing four patients—all in their mid-40s to early-50s—with Alzheimer’s disease and prescribing them the same drug—all cited by the Board as an “extreme departure from the standard of care.”

Source: Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order in the Matter of the Accusation Against Richard A. Hochberg, M.D., Case Nos. 06-2005-129383, 06-2007-188425 & 06-2008-190448, OAH Nos. 2009120137 and L-2004060531, Medical Board of California.

February 18, 2011

State puts psychologist Laura Jean Petracek on probation for false billings

On August 23, 2010, the California Board of Psychology placed psychologist Laura Jean Petracek’s license on probation with terms and conditions.

The Board’s document states that in March 2006, Petracek was contracted as a member of the provider network of the Alameda County Behavioral Health Plan (ACBHP) of Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services (ACBHCS) to provide services to their clients.

In October 2006, an auditor from ACBHP/ACBHCS visited Petracek’s office and requested she make all of her charts available but she did not comply.  Later that month she produced her complete charts.

In January 2007, the ACBHCS sent Petracek written notice of its intent to revoke her privileges with the provider network.  In March 2007, the Board received a Health Facility Reporting Form from ACBHP/ACBHCS in which it was reported that Petracek’s membership in their network was terminated or revoked March 13, 2007 due to non-compliance, as evidenced by their audit finding.

The ACBHP/ACBHCS audit of Petracek’s claims over a five-month period between April 14, 2006 and September 14, 2007 revealed that she’d billed for clinical services for seven clients that were not actually provided.

It was also found that during that period, Petracek had created false records of therapy sessions for five clients that were not provided, among other things.

Source: Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order in the Matter of the Accusation Against Laura Jean Petracek, Ph.D., Psychologist License No. PSY 20033, Case No. 1F 2007 185290, OAH No. 2010 060910, California Board of Psychology.

November 24, 2010

Former counselor-therapist William Jefferson denied request for review/rehearing on license revocation

Filed under: health care licensing board discipline,mental health,mental health counselor — Psych Crime Reporter @ 9:58 pm

On May 7, 2010, the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners issued an Order of Denial of Review or Rehearing Request on professional counselor-marriage and family therapist William Jefferson.

The Board revoked Jefferson’s licenses/certificates in February 2010 due to his criminal history and history of being involuntarily terminated by his employer.  Jefferson is reported to have answered “no” on subsequent license renewal applications to questions about arrests/charges and involuntary terminations.  Specifically, the Board’s document states that Jefferson was arrested in July 1995 for the crime of resisting arrest and was charged with the same crime in March 1997.

In 2003 and 2005, Jefferson answered “no” on multiple renewal application background questions regard arrests and charges.

Jefferson was terminated from employment at an agency he’d worked at for 12 years for inability to comply with the agency’s policies and procedures and to perform at the expected level of professionalism.

He was also terminated in October 2002 from another agency he’d worked at concurrently for sexual harassment and was similarly terminated in December 2008 from yet another agency, also for sexual harassment.

During the Board’s investigation, Williams minimized and misrepresented his employment terminations.

Source: Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners Adverse Action Tracking Form 2010, dated 21 September 2010.


Negligent custody evaluation costs mental health counselor her license

Filed under: Divorce and custody,health care licensing board discipline — Psych Crime Reporter @ 9:50 pm

On May 7, 2010, the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners revoked the license of professional counselor Linda Bennardo for the following reasons, as found in the Board’s report:

  • Bennardo treated a mother and her daughters for six months in 2008 and saw the mother’s son twice during that time.  She recommended limiting the father’s access to the son based solely on information provided by the mother and daughters.
  • In another case, Bennardo concluded that a three-year girl was highly traumatized by her visitation with her father—without having gathered any information on the matter from the father, parenting coordinator, best interest attorney or other entities.

The Board’s report also states that Bennardo failed to obtain informed consent for the aforementioned son and that informed consent for the aforementioned mother and daughters was incomplete, among other things.

Source: Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners Adverse Action Tracking Form 2010, dated 21 September 2010.

State revokes counselor Russell Bentley’s license for boundary violations with teen client

On June 4, 2010, the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners reported that it revoked counselor Russell Bentley’s license.

The Board’s report states that Bentley’s employers (for whom he worked from August 2002 to August 2009) allowed him to resign in lieu of termination after investigating a complaint from the mother of a 16-year-old client whom Bentley treated for about a year and a half.

The client was described as vulnerable, with a father in prison and an alcoholic mother.  Bentley made non-therapeutic visits to the client; had dinner with the client and his mother in mother’s home on several occasions and stayed very late at their home on several occasions.  None of these activities were documented in the client’s file.

Bentley engaged in non-therapeutic activities with the client, including watching television and going out for food and coffee.  On one occasion, the mother alleged that she woke up late at night and found Bentley and her son watching TV, the son with his head in Bentley’s lap, Bentley stroking his head.

Bentley admitted massaging the boy’s shoulders and buying him pants and a shirt.

Source: Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners Adverse Action Tracking Form 2010, dated 21 September 2010.


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