Psych Crime Reporter

July 8, 2014

State of Florida FINALLY takes action on psychiatrist with history of ampthetamine abuse

On June 18, 2014 the Florida Board of Medicine accepted Florida psychiatrist’s David G. Malen’s voluntary relinquishment of his medical license.

Per the terms of the agreement Malen may never again apply for a physician’s license in Florida.

The Florida Department of Health initiated its case against Malen in 2007.

The administrative complaint which resulted in Malen giving up his license, contained information about Malen’s “history of taking ‘extraordinary’ doses of amphetamines with extreme difficulties resulting from the drugs, including depression, suicide attempts and psychosis,” as well as his continued use of and addiction to the substance.

The Department of Health’s document further contains information about Malen’s submission to the state’s Professionals Resource Network (“PRN,” a program for impaird physicians) in 2008. This resulted in Malen undergoing several psychiatric evaluations between 2008 and 2011, all of which found him impaired, yet it appears that the state continued to allow him to practice.

You read that correctly: Malen’s drug addiction was a well-documented concern since 2007, yet his license was free and clear from 2007 to June 2014.

Maryland Sukhveen K. Ajrawat indicted for federal health care fraud

Filed under: fraud,Medicaid-Medicare fraud,mental health — Psych Crime Reporter @ 3:13 pm

Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal grand jury has indicted two doctors, Paramjit Singh Ajrawat, age 60, and his wife, Sukhveen Kaur Ajrawat, age 56, both of Potomac, Maryland, on charges of health care fraud in connection with the pain clinic they owned and operated. The indictment was returned on June 24, 2014.

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Robert Craig of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service – Mid-Atlantic Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Nicholas DiGiulio, Office of Investigations, Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services; Special Agent in Charge Drew Grimm, Office of Personnel Management, Office of Inspector General; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Special Agent in Charge Bill Jones, of the Washington Regional Office, U.S. Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations; and Special Agent in Charge Paul Bowman of the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General.

According to the indictment, P. Ajrawat was a licensed physician in Maryland who specialized in interventional pain management. S. Ajrawat was a licensed psychiatrist in Maryland. The Ajrawats owned and operated Washington Pain Management Center (WPMC) located in Greenbelt.

The 16-count indictment alleges that from at least August 2008 through May 2014, the Ajrawats engaged in a scheme to defraud federal health benefit programs including: Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs. Specifically, the indictment alleges that the Ajrawats filed claims for procedures that were not performed (rather, less expensive procedures were performed and then the Ajrawats falsely billed for procedures that provided higher reimbursements), or were not performed in compliance with the requirements for reimbursement.

For example the indictment alleges that the Ajrwats submitted claims that P. Ajrawat had performed an epidural, when instead P. Ajrawat had performed less invasive injections using lidocaine, which was not indicated for epidural use. The Ajrawats allegedly falsely documented the use of an ultrasound machine to direct needle placement in certain patient files and caused the alteration or destruction of patient files to conceal the scheme.

The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of $2,329,109, believed to be the proceeds of the scheme.

The defendants face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each count of health care fraud. An initial appearance has not yet been scheduled.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised DCIS, HHS-Office of Inspector General, OPM-Office of Inspector General, FBI, U.S. Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Postal Service-Office of Inspector General for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Kelly O. Hayes, who is prosecuting the case.

Source: “Doctors Indicted For Health Care Fraud,” news release of the United States Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland, June 26, 2014.

June 26, 2014

Counselor Danielle Hackett surrenders license

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:52 pm

On March 24, 2014, the Maine Board of Counseling Professionals Licensure formally reprimanded professional counselor Danielle Hackett and accepted the surrender of her license.

This action was based on findings that while providing counseling services to an inmate, Hackett engaged in a sexualized dual relationship with the inmate, including sharing personal information and engaging in sexualized, flirtatious telephone conversations with him.

June 23, 2014

Psychiatrist Licia B. Maiocchi reprimanded

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:40 pm

On May 1, 2014, the New South Wales (Australia) Medical Professional Standards Committee reprimanded psychiatrist Licia Beatriz Maiocchi for unsatisfactory professional conduct in relation to her refusal to attend a performance assessment when required to do so by the Medical Council in November 2011.

The Council had requested Maiocchi to attend the assessment after receiving a notification about her work performance from her employer during 2010.

In addition to the reprimand, the Committee imposed conditions on her registration.

June 16, 2014

NY psychiatrist Melvin Pisetzner loses license for sex with patient, etc. from ’70s on

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

On April 21, 2014, the New York State Department of Health revoked the license of psychiatrist Melvin Pisetzner for, among other things, gross negligence, gross incompetence failure to maintain records, relative to his treatment of five patients, going back to the 1970s.

Pisetzner conceded to the Health Dept’s criticism that he failed to document medications, dosages and rationales for prescribing, re-prescribing for long periods without office visits and summarizing multiple visits rather that documenting each one.

The Dept’s committee also unanimously sustained allegations that Pisetzner engaged in a sexual relationship with a patient and made unexplained and inappropriate payments to the patient, for whom he was unable product any records from the 1970s to 2000.

Psychiatrist Sheila Williamson suspended on suspicion of impairment

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:50 pm

On April 14, 2014, the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts issued an Order Emergently Suspending License on psychiatrist Sheila Williamson. Thought the Board’s document is significantly redacted, it makes reference to the section of states law which states that if “[t]he licensee has the inability to practice the healing arts with reasonable skill and safety to patients by reason of physical or mental illness, or condition or use of alcohol, drugs or controlled substances.” It further states that “There is cause to believe Licensee’s ability to practice medicine is impaired to a degree which would violate” the state law.

Psychiatrist Melvyn Levitch reprimanded over prescribing

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:49 pm

On September 21, 2013, the Tennessee Department of Health reprimanded psychiatrist Melvyn Levitch for unprofessional, dishonorable or unethical conduct and failure to follow board regulations which establish prerequisites for the issuance of prescriptions. The Board also assessed a $1,800 civil penalty, plus costs.

Psychiatrist Ronald G. Rubin suspended for over prescribing

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:47 pm

On February 19, 2014, the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board summarily suspended the license of psychiatrist Ronald G. Rubin. According to the Board’s document, the Board found probable cause to believe that Rubin “grossly overprescribed stimulants” to patients, creating unnecessary health risks.

Psychiatrist Patricia Shawberry slapped for dishonorable conduct

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:44 pm

On April 17, 2014, the Tennessee Department of Health reprimanded psychiatrist Patricia Shawberry for, among other things, unprofessional, dishonorable or unethical conduct; gross health care liability or a pattern of continued or repeated health care liability, ignorance, negligence, or incompetence in the course of medical practice and dispensing, prescribing or otherwise distributing any controlled substance or any other drug not in the course of professional practice.

June 12, 2014

Ex-employee alleges she was fired for reporting fraud at psych clinic

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

In Pennsylvania, almost anyone can start their own psychiatric clinic, be they a doctor, an experienced hospital administrator, or even a ward leader, like Carlos Matos.

Matos says he is the co-founder of the Juniata Community Mental Health Clinic (JCMHC), near Fifth and Huntingdon streets in Fairhill. He had been a Democratic ward leader until he pleaded guilty to a felony charge in 2007 for bribing three Atlantic City councilmen and was barred from political work — although he resumed his role as leader of the 19th Ward last year, after his probation ended.

Although Matos’ attorney says Matos no longer works at the clinic, a whistleblower lawsuit filed in the Court of Common Pleas last month alleges that he was the director of JCMHC in 2013. The suit also claims that he and another administrator fired an employee for reporting what she said were “fraudulent billing practices” at the clinic.

Matos, when reached Tuesday, said he had not heard of the lawsuit, and referred questions to his lawyer, Geoffrey Johnson, who said a formal response to the complaint was pending, and “absolutely denied” the allegations. Johnson said the termination was solely performance-based.

However, Yeadon resident Sheree Brown says she was just doing her job. She was hired as the deputy director of business operations at JCMHC in June 2013. Her primary duties “included analysis of rejected Medicaid billing and her recommendations as to what action to take to correct the billing,” according to the lawsuit. It was an important position: The surrounding Fairhill neighborhood has one of the highest poverty rates in the city and 95 percent of patients received some form of subsidy, like Medicaid.

It’s a lot of paperwork to deal with, but the responsibility didn’t bother Brown, a six-year veteran of the city’s Department of Behavioral Health, which pays out money for patient costs through a city contract. What did start to trouble her, according to the legal complaint, were what she said were inexplicable medical charges and soaring bills for psychotherapist time that didn’t seem to mesh with reality.
Brown puts it bluntly.

“The billing process wasn’t being done according to state laws,” she said in a recent interview.

Brown noted what she said was a pattern of overbilling within her first month of work and says she immediately notified the clinic’s director, whom she names as Matos.

She says she also notified administrator Sandy Acosta, a defendant in an earlier vote-buying case that also involved Matos as a co-defendant (in that case, she was convicted, he was not).

According to Brown, neither Matos nor Acosta seemed particularly concerned with the alleged overbilling.

“They said they would take care of it,” she said. “But it really just led up to my termination.”

She alleges that each of the three times she reported what she thought were suspicious medical charges in 2013, Matos or Acosta promised to take action, but nothing changed — except Brown’s workload.

“They took responsibilities away from me. They wouldn’t allow me to look at billing anymore,” she said. “And they were always adding new responsibilities, saying, ‘You need [to take on] clients. You need more of this or that.’”

Brown believes her shifting duties were a smokescreen to cover her eventual termination.

“It put a lot of stress on me,” she said. “They were basically trying to make up something they could say I wasn’t doing right.”

Then, about five months after she first reported her concerns, JCMHC administrators told Brown, ‘It was not working out,’ according to her legal complaint. But Brown believes she was fired simply for doing her job, and is now seeking in excess of $50,000 in compensation, under Pennsylvania’s whistleblower law, in addition to legal fees.

Matos’ lawyer, Johnson, categorically denied that Matos was even employed at JCMHC at the time, and said of Brown: “This young lady shopped this case to a number of lawyers.”

Brown’s assertion, if proven, that Matos was serving as director in 2013 is potentially problematic. He did not file paperwork last year as a subcontractor at the clinic, a city requirement. And at the state level, Pennsylvania has the right to revoke a psychiatric clinic’s license if an “owner, operator or staff person … has been convicted of a felony.”

A spokesperson for the commonwealth’s Department of Public Welfare, which licenses mental-health clinics, said the agency was taking the case seriously and would “work with all appropriate parties to the extent of our ability to ensure that all matters of waste, fraud and abuse are investigated thoroughly.”

Acosta, who is listed as the clinic’s “administrator” on city contracts, did not return calls for comment, but Roland Turk, who is listed on state inspection reports as JCMHC’s “clinical director,” said that he was also unfamiliar with the suit. However, he added that he didn’t consider the allegations of fraud taking place in the clinic to be any of his business.

“I’m a part-time clinical director. My interest is only in the clinical stuff,” said the 74-year-old social worker. “Frankly, I really don’t want to talk about this kind of thing anymore.”

This is not the first time the clinic has run into trouble. In 2009, the IRS placed a tax lien against the clinic. In 2010, after Matos’ three-year prison sentence, he received mental-health treatment at JCMHC even though he was also employed there as a counselor.

During a routine visit, his probation officer wrote that he observed Matos “wearing a Pennsylvania state Senate shirt and lunching with [former state rep candidate] Jonathan Ramos,” according to the Inquirer.

During that same time, Matos’ wife, Renee Tartaglione Matos, the sister of state Sen. Christina Tartaglione, was the president of JCMHC (and proprietor of Norris Hancock LLC, the building’s owner, according to city records). However, Renee Tartaglione Matos was simultaneously employed overseeing voter registration with the Office of City Commissioners, then run by her mother, Margaret Tartaglione.

According to the city charter, municipal employees are not supposed to benefit from city contracts directly or indirectly — contracts like the one JCMHC has been receiving from the city’s Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) since 2005, according to a DBH spokesman.

Renee Tartaglione Matos was dismissed from her city job in 2010 after she admitted to violating a ban on political activity by city employees. She later also stepped down as president of JCMHC — although she still holds a seat on the clinic’s board, according to Johnson. Tartaglione Matos did not respond to a call for comment.

On the outside, the clinic is just another unremarkable building on Fifth Street. On a recent afternoon, a few people trickled in or out. A forlorn Christmas wreath hung over the front of the brick clinic building, baking in the warm May sun.

Source: Ryan Briggs, “Ex-employee alleges she was fired for reporting ‘wrongdoing’ at psych clinic,” Philadelphia City Paper, May 8, 2014.

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