Psych Crime Reporter

March 14, 2014

Inquest finds psychiatric hospital to blame for patient’s death

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 4:20 pm

A jury has unanimously blamed the death of a schizophrenic Hatfield man on serious failings at the psychiatric unit based at Welwyn Garden City’s QE2 Hospital.

In a narrative verdict after a four-day inquest into the death of Ozan Atasoy, 34, of Lemsford Road, a jury identified five failings by the Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Welwyn Garden City unit.

The jury found that despite strict instructions not to allow Mr Atasoy out of Mymms Ward on the first floor, he had slipped out behind another patient, and escaped from the smoking garden over a five-foot fence on May 6, 2012.

Thirteen days later, he was found dead in the River Thames in London.

Although the jury did not rule on how he entered the river, his father has no doubt that he jumped from Blackfriars Bridge.

Mr Atasoy was detained for his own protection under the Mental Health Act as he was plagued by voices urging him to kill himself, and his parents had warned managers the fence was too low.

His father, Cahit Atasoy, told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “We are pleased with the verdict.

“The whole thing was a shambles.

“They [the trust] have now done things like raising the height of the fence and changing the layout of the garden.

“But the staff are the same. The staffing was inadequate. There must be training and monitoring to ensure nobody else has to go through what we went through.”

Source: “Serious failure led to death of Hatfield psychiatric patient,” Welwyn Hatfield Times, March 10, 2014.


Psychiatric nurse gets 8 years prison for stabbings

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 4:18 pm

A psychiatric nurse has been sentenced to eight years imprisonment for stabbing three people following an 18th birthday party at a neighbouring house.

Brian Quinn (46) formerly of Deer Park Avenue, Kiltipper, Tallaght, now living in Balbriggan, had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to Stephen Keogh, Lee Harte and James Toner Senior on October 9, 2011.

He had further pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to Kurtis Lennon, James Toner Junior and Robert Ryan and production of a knife on the same date.

The jury of two women and nine men convicted Quinn following a trial last November on the charge of seriously assaulting Mr Harte and assaulting Mr Lennon and Mr Toner Junior causing them harm. He was also convicted of production of a knife.

Quinn was acquitted of the remaining charges.

Judge Carmel Stewart today imposed an eight year sentence.

“This was a serious offence where a knife was used by Mr Quinn,” said Judge Stewart. “He was a psychiatric nurse trained in restraint techniques and yet chose to use knife.”

“The factors which mitigate the gravity of the offence are that he co-operated with gardai and made admissions. He has no previous convictions and it was said to be out of character in testimonials from family, former work colleagues and friends.”

“Even a person of good character must expect his own life to be effected – offences involving knife attacks are to be taken seriously,” said Judge Stewart.

A number of victim impact statements were read to the court by Paul Carroll BL, prosecuting,

“Mr Harte has become reclusive and paranoid and doesn’t go out – he is reactive if anyone comes near him.”

“Kurtis Lennon has been affected in terms of confidence. He doesn’t go out as much or go to parties. He is not as carefree as he once was and has a scar at his ribs but is trying to get on with his life.”

“James Toner junior has had to get some counseling.”

Giollaiosa O’Lideadha SC, defending, read a number of testimonials written by co-workers and family of the accused.

He read that his client ‘was a pleasure to work with’ and that the ‘service has lost one of its finest nurses’.

Mr Quinn’s stepchildren said he had ‘supported them practically through education giving feedback on their work’ saying he made an ‘important contribution to the happiness of the family’.

A testimonial by his brother described a ‘difficult early childhood’ during which his brother Brian ‘looked after him and helped him throughout the years’.

In a letter of reflection written by Mr Quinn in prison he described the ‘suffering’ he has experienced ‘physically and emotionally’ and how he was ‘dismayed to hear the seriousness of the injuries’ – that he would ‘never intentionally cause any harm to any other person’.

Source: Neil Fetherston, “Psychiatric nurse sentenced to eight years for stabbing three people following an 18th birthday party,
Sunday World, March 10, 2014.

Court orders religious woman’s discharge from psychiatric hospital

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

CLEVELAND (CN) – A self-published spiritual author sued a doctor and hospital, claiming she was involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric ward after becoming “confused and disoriented” on the 15th day of a “biblical fast,” and that hospital staff misinterpreted her prayers as psychotic tendencies.

Jane Doe sued St. Vincent Charity Medical Center and Dr. Saraj Brar, in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.

Doe, 56, describes herself in the complaint as “a Pentecostal Christian and a self-published author of books about God and spirituality.”

The lawsuit continues: “As part of her religious devotion, she periodically observes a biblical fast during which she abstains from all foods and consumes only water.

“In the early morning hours of July 10, 2013, Doe was on the 15th day of such a fast.

“While at a BP gas station in the city of Cleveland, Doe became confused and disoriented, and she contacted her mother for assistance.”

Doe says she was taken to the emergency room at St. Vincent’s and then involuntarily admitted to the hospital’s psychiatric ward.

“Blood tests taken at the time of Doe’s admission revealed low sodium, potassium and electrolyte levels, indicative of water intoxication and hyponatremia,” the complaint states.

“Notwithstanding the results of Doe’s blood tests, Dr. Brar diagnosed Doe on admission as suffering from bipolar disorder with psychotic features.”

Doe claims that while she was at the hospital, “Dr. Brar and other St. Vincent’s staff characterized Doe’s religious devotion as evidence of mental instability, making repeated references to her ‘religious preoccupation’ and noting Doe’s Bible reading and audible praying as evidence [of] mental illness.”

She claims that “when Doe refused to take anti-psychotic medications prescribed by Dr. Brar, defendants sought continued involuntary commitment through the Cuyahoga County Probate Court.”

Doe says Brar refused to let her leave the hospital after nearly five days of observation, and “instituted an action in the Cuyahoga County Probate Court seeking Doe’s continued involuntary detention.”

She claims that “Dr. Brar’s affidavit was incomplete and misrepresented to the Probate Court that defendants had complied with their obligations under Ohio Rev. Code 5122.”

The Probate Court scheduled an initial hearing for July 25, but Doe says the hospital refused to provide copies of her medical records until the day before the final hearing, scheduled for Aug. 9.

She claims that “based on the evidence presented, the Probate Court granted Doe’s oral motion to dismiss the proceedings and ordered Doe’s immediate discharge.”

She seeks punitive damages for false imprisonment and violations of patient rights.

She is represented by Angela Lavin, with Wegman, Hessler, and Vandenburg.

Source: Kevin Koeninger, “It’s Prayer, not Psychosis, Woman Says,” Courthouse News Service, March 12, 2013.

Former students file sex abuse lawsuit against school psychiatrist

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 3:59 pm

Robert Browne was a well-known Honolulu psychiatrist who took part in the civil rights marches of the 1960s.

But a new lawsuit alleges that Browne was a sexual predator who preyed on Kamehameha Schools students during the 1970s.

“He masturbated them. His hands were on them all the time,” said attorney Michael Green.

“I think there’s probably hundreds.”

Green represents eight former students, all men who are now in their 50s. Each tells the same story: that Browne fondled them after they were sent to him for counseling.

“It started with the magazines under the couch … and there was rubbing and the touching. And eventually, the masturbating, which happened all of the time,” Green said.

Kamehameha Schools called the allegations serious but declined comment, saying it has not seen the complaint.

That suit alleges that Browne served as a dorm sponsor at the Kapalama Heights campus. He also was chief of psychiatry at the Saint Francis Medical Center.

Like the Catholic priest abuse scandal, the alleged molestations remained out of the limelight for decades. Then in 1991, one of the victims spoke out about his experience during a church service on the Big Island.

A sister of another victim happened to be in the audience that day and she got her brother in touch with the man. After speaking to each other, one of Green’s clients decided to contact Browne.

“(He) confronted him with not only what you did to me but what did you do to so and so. Dr. Browne that day killed himself,” Green said.

Green said the timing of the suit was partly due to the statue of limitations, which runs out next month. But many of the victims say they just want to see justice done, even if it’s delayed by decades.

Source: Suit: Rick Daysog, “Psychiatrist sexually abused Kamehameha students,” Hawaii News Now, March 11, 2014.

March 6, 2014

Utah psychologist Charles F. McCusker indicted for health care fraud

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:51 pm

Salt Lake City, Utah – A federal grand jury returned an indictment Wednesday charging Charles Fredrick McCusker, age 62, of Salt Lake City, a licensed Utah psychologist, with health care fraud and mail fraud in connection with a health care fraud scheme the indictment alleges caused federal and private benefit programs to pay more than $1.3 million for services not provided to patients.

The indictment alleges the conduct occurred from around 2007 to around August 2013.

The indictment, which includes 18 counts of health care fraud and 16 counts of mail fraud, follows a coordinated investigation by the FBI, the U.S. Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, the Utah Insurance Fraud Division, the Utah Attorney General’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The indictment follows a state felony information filed on February 20, 2014, charging McCusker with 25 second-degree felonies alleging identity fraud, insurance fraud, and pattern of unlawful conduct.

According to the indictment, McCusker conducted business as Health Balance International and New Life Balance in Salt Lake City.

The indictment alleges McCusker executed a scheme to defraud health care benefit programs by billing private insurers and government health care programs for services not provided to patients, resulting in payments to which he was not entitled.

McCusker, the indictment alleges, obtained health insurance information from patients under the guise that he would bill health care benefit programs only for services actually provided. As further steps in the scheme to defraud, McCusker did not meet at all with some patients, nor did he provide any follow up services. Despite that fact, the indictment alleges, McCusker fraudulently billed patients’ health care programs for services he did not provide.

In other instances, McCusker met with a patient only once and provided no follow-up services. Despite that fact, the indictment alleges, McCusker falsely billed the patients’ health care benefit programs for follow up services not provided. On other occasions, McCusker provided services to patients on several occasions but fraudulently billed these patients’ health care benefit programs for numerous additional services not provided.

According to the indictment, McCusker fraudulently submitted claims to health care benefit programs seeking reimbursement for services he did not provide. Those claims were processed and paid by health care benefit programs.

A summons has been issued to McCusker for an initial appear in federal court on March 27, 2014, at 10 a.m. before U.S. District Judge David Nuffer. The potential maximum penalty for each count of health care fraud is 10 years and the penalty for each mail fraud count is 20 years.

Indictments are not findings of guilt. Individuals charged in indictments are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.

Source: “Salt Lake City Psychologist Charged with Health Care Fraud in Indictment Returned by Grand Jury,”, February 27, 2014.

Las Vegas psych nurse assistant guilty of sexual assaults

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

Certified nursing assistant Steven Farmer, a Santa Claus look-alike who had a reputation for being an attentive caretaker, was convicted Friday of sexual assault and other charges for victimizing five female patients in 1998 at Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center.

District Attorney Steve Wolfson, who sat in court while the jury’s decision was announced, called the outcome “an overwhelming victory” for his office and for the state of Nevada.

“This was a significant verdict for this community,” Wolfson said.

Jurors, who began deliberating Monday afternoon, found Farmer guilty of sexually assaulting two women who sought treatment after suffering seizures in May 2008. The panel also found him guilty of indecent exposure and multiple counts of open or gross lewdness for his behavior with three other patients.

Multiple witnesses said they remembered Farmer as the nursing aide with white hair and a white beard who liked to talk about his resemblance to Santa Claus. Several said Farmer, who has been in custody since May 2008, now looks older and thinner.

Farmer, 61, stood stone-faced as a court clerk read 13 guilty verdicts and two not guilty verdicts.

Jeff Maningo and Ryan Bashor, the two deputy public defenders who represented Farmer, both expressed dis­appointment after hearing the verdicts.

“We’re not angry or anything,” Maningo said. “We think everyone did a fine job and did what they were supposed to do. We were just hoping for a different resolution.”

When asked if Farmer would appeal, Maningo said, “That’s automatic.”

District Judge Carolyn Ellsworth, who presided over the four-week trial, is scheduled to sentence Farmer on May 28.

Jurors found Farmer guilty of four counts of sexual assault, a felony. Each count carries a potential prison sentence of 10 years to life.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacqueline Bluth said she applauds jurors “for how seriously they took this job.”

The prosecutor said she planned to call each of the victims to tell them the news.

“It’s going to be nice to make those phone calls,” she said.

One of the sexual assault victims committed suicide last year at the age of 56, but jurors heard her videotaped testimony during the three-week trial.

The woman said the lingering effects of a seizure prevented her from speaking or moving while Farmer used his fingers to sexually assault her at Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center.

“I felt pain,” she testified. “I felt a multitude of feeling — one feeling being that there was absolutely nothing I could do. I couldn’t ring the bell. I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t — I just had to lay there. I was humiliated. I was embarrassed. I was shocked that I’m in a hospital being taken care of, and I’m having things like this done to me, and at that point in time, I can’t tell anybody.”

The other sexual assault victim, who is now 40, told jurors she tried to take pictures with her cellphone while Farmer performed oral sex on her, but the pictures did not turn out. She said Farmer also assaulted her with his fingers.

“I’m scared. I’m just terrified,” the woman testified. “I didn’t know whether to scream or holler. I couldn’t reach the call button because it was behind me.”

Jury foreman Jim Robbins said two holdouts caused deliberations to drag on several days.

“They couldn’t come to the conclusion that he possibly did that, and they were feeling sorry for him,” the foreman said. “And I didn’t feel that way.”

Defense attorneys suggested money may have motivated the two sexual assault victims to fabricate their stories.

Both women sued the hospital. One case resulted in a confidential settlement in September.

Attorney Robert Murdock continues to pursue a civil case on behalf of the dead victim’s estate.

Farmer also is charged with open or gross lewdness in a separate case involving a former patient at Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas.

Source: Carri Geer Thevenot, “Jury finds nursing aide guilty of assaulting patients,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, February 28, 2014.

Kentucky social worker Jeremy Catron indicted for Medicaid fraud

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

Attorney General Jack Conway and his Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control Unit today announced that a former co-owner of a Barren County mental health treatment center has been indicted on charges involving theft and fraud.

On January 31, the Barren County grand jury charged Jeremy Catron, 36, with theft by unlawful taking over $10,000 and devising or engaging in a scheme to defraud the Kentucky Medicaid program. Catron was arraigned this morning in Barren County Circuit Court and pleaded not guilty. A pretrial hearing was set for April 28.

Catron is the former co-owner of Alliance Counseling Associates. The indictment alleges that Catron billed the Kentucky Medicaid program for therapy services that he did not perform, resulting in a loss to the Medicaid program of more than $10,000.

Theft by unlawful taking over $10,000 is a class C felony. Devising or engaging in a scheme to defraud the Kentucky Medicaid program is a class D felony. If convicted, Catron faces up to 15 years in prison.

This case was investigated by General Conway’s Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control Unit and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ Office of the Inspector General. It will be prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General in Barren County Circuit Court.

A charge is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Medicaid Recoveries

Since Attorney General Conway took office in January 2008, his Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control has recovered or been awarded more than $260 million dollars for the state and federal Medicaid programs. These cases range from lawsuits and settlements against pharmaceutical companies to cases against individual providers.

In 2013, General Conway’s Medicaid Fraud Unit was named one of the most aggressive in the country by the nonprofit watchdog group Public Citizen.

The Attorney General’s tip line for reporting allegations of Medicaid fraud is 1-877-228-7384.

Source: “General Conway Announces Indictment of Former Treatment Center Co-Owner,” news release for the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, February 17, 2014.

Omaha social worker James Holt convicted of health care fraud

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

LINCOLN – Attorney General Jon Bruning today announced James Holt of Omaha pleaded guilty to stealing government funds in U.S. District Court in Lincoln. Holt’s company, UMOJA, PC, pleaded guilty to one federal felony count of health care fraud and Holt pleaded guilty to nine federal misdemeanors. Holt is a mental health provider in Omaha.

The plea stemmed from an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Fraud and Patient Abuse Unit and the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Mr. Holt and his company stole money from tax payers by submitted billings to Nebraska Medicaid for services he did not render,” said Bruning. “Today’s plea works to ensure he is held accountable for his crimes.”

As a part of the plea agreement, Holt and his corporation agreed to make restitution of approximately $15,000.
The plea stemmed from an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Fraud and Patient Abuse Unit and the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Sentencing is set for May 13, 2014 before Senior U.S. District Judge Lyle Strom.

The matter was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Everett and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney and Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Fraud Division Chief Mark Collins.

Source: “Omaha Mental Health Provider Pleads Guilty to Stealing Government Fund,” press release of the Nebraska Attorney General, February 12, 2014.

Chattanooga mental health center pays $800K to settle billing fraud charges

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:48 pm

The A.I.M. Center, Inc. (AIM), which operates a community mental health facility located in Chattanooga, Tenn., has agreed to pay $800,000 to settle allegations that it violated the federal False Claims Act (FCA) and the Tennessee Medicaid False Claims Act (TNMFCA). This settlement resolves an investigation into AIM’s billing practices which began with the filing of an action by a former member of the facility on behalf of the United States and the State of Tennessee under the qui tam, also known as whistle-blower, provisions of both the FCA and the TNMFCA. The United States and the State of Tennessee subsequently filed a joint intervention complaint.

As a result of a joint federal and state investigation, the government alleged in the joint complaint that, from 2009 through 2012, the AIM Center knowingly submitted numerous false claims to the TennCare/Medicaid program by overcharging for psychosocial rehabilitation (PSR) services provided to TennCare/Medicaid facility members. Specifically, the government alleged that the AIM Center engaged in a practice commonly known as “upcoding” by submitting claims for services that were more lengthy and more expensive than the services actually provided. For example, the AIM Center submitted claims for a full day (per diem) of PSR services for TennCare/Medicaid members even when the members spent as little as 5 minutes to an hour at the facility.

In addition, the government alleged that the AIM Center knowingly concealed its obligation to return funds to the TennCare/Medicaid program that were improperly paid and retained as a result of “double billing” (submitting distinct and separate claims for services that were already included in the scope of the per diem services).

The payment made by the AIM Center in connection with this settlement is intended to compensate the TennCare/Medicaid program for monies paid out of that program which the AIM Center improperly received. As part of the overall settlement, the AIM Center has also entered into a comprehensive 5-year Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) to ensure its future compliance with federal health care benefit program requirements.

“Mental and behavioral health services are a vital component of the care provided to TennCare recipients,” Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper said. “This Office will continue to pursue providers that improperly bill for these needed services.”

“In terms of dollars spent, Medicaid is the federal government’s second largest health care program, and it is the single largest payer for mental health services in the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Bill Killian. “Funding for mental health services is an area of significant need for our community. It is critical to the continued viability of our system that providers bill public healthcare programs only as authorized by law. We will continue to aggressively pursue the recovery of funds improperly paid due to fraud, waste or abuse.”

The investigative team whose diligent efforts resulted in this settlement was comprised of representatives from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper commended the cooperative efforts of the agencies who participated in the investigation.

Source: “Mental Health Facility Settles Billing Practices Case with the State,” press release of the Tennessee Attorney General, February 18, 2014.

Salinas prison psychiatrist convicted of grand theft

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

Dr. Pedro Eva, 49, of Soledad, has been convicted of grand theft and submitting false claims to the state of California while working at Salinas Valley State Prison, the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday.

The charges stem from an investigation conducted by the Office of the Inspector General from March 1 to June 30, 2007, which was initiated after authorities received an anonymous letter alleging that Dr. Eva and four other doctors were overbilling the state for their services, prosecutors said. The investigation revealed that all these doctors were contract doctors who were supposed to submit daily timesheets for only those hours spent while inside the prison. Instead, they submitted false invoices claiming they worked the entire day when they worked only a portion of the day, amounting to $200,000 theft for the three-month period, prosecutors said.

District Attorney Dean Flippo expressed appreciation for the jury’s verdict: “These doctors took advantage of a position of trust. It is important that employees who are entrusted by the government to perform duties are compensated only for actual time they put in.”

Dr. Eva is the fourth doctor convicted from this investigation, prosecutors said. The case was delayed in getting to trial because of five changes in attorneys for Dr. Eva.

Judge Larry Hayes presided over the three week jury trial and is scheduled to sentence Dr. Eva on April 8. Dr. Eva faces three years state prison, prosecutors said.

Source: “Prison psychiatrist convicted of theft,”, February 27, 2014. 

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