Psych Crime Reporter

March 6, 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. 

February 27, 2014

Psychiatrist William J. Kafin loses medical license in another state

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

On February 17, 2014, the Florida Board of Medicine revoked the license of psychiatrist William J. Kafin relative to disciplinary action taken against him in the state of Illinois, his failure to report the disciplinary action the Florida Board and his failure to respond to the Florida Board’s complaint.

On February 15, 2013, the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation suspended Kafin’s license for at least three years and ordered him to pay a fine of $5,000 for violations related to a sexual relationship with a patient (described in news media as being 19 years old), constituting gross negligence, unethical conduct and immoral conduct in the treatment of a patient.

Psychiatrist gives up license following criminal conviction involving patient

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:53 pm

On February 17, 2014, the Florida Board of Medicine accepted the voluntary relinquishment of the license of psychiatrist Ioan Pop.

According to records acquired by the Tampa chapter of Citizens Commission on Human Rights, Pop was criminally convicted of sexual misconduct with a vulnerable female patient who had been involuntarily committed to Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami.

The records state that on April 27, 2013, Pop, who was in the patient’s room at Mount Sinai, kissed her on the mouth while holding her face and asked her sex-related questions.

Following her May 1, 2013 release, the patient went to the police as Pop was repeatedly calling her.

She allowed a police officer to listen in on one of Pop’s calls in which he stated to her “not to discuss the incident at the hospital with anyone” and that he “liked her anatomy and he liked her tongue very much.”

On September 18, 2013, Pop was found guilty of battery and was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to stay away from the former patient.

Unlicensed social worker fails to appear in court on theft charge

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

SALEM — What began with the alleged theft of a dress could lead to more criminal charges for a Lawrence woman.

Maria Pereyra, 45, was scheduled to appear Thursday in 10th Circuit Court for a probable cause hearing. But she was nowhere to be seen when it came time for her case to be heard by Judge Robert Stephen.

Pereyra was to answer to a willful concealment charge for allegedly stealing a dress Dec. 12 from Lord & Taylor at The Mall at Rockingham Park.

Her attorney, public defender Tara Witt, asked that the case be continued because Pereyra had said she could not attend the hearing because she had three job interviews scheduled in Texas.

Witt offered to provide copies of airline reservations to prove her unemployed client flew to Texas earlier in the week.

But prosecutor Jason Grosky objected, saying Pereya should have been in court. Stephen agreed and rejected the request.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Pereya, who could face additional charges for falsifying information, Grosky said later.

“That is something that is being talked about,” he said. “It’s a fraud on the system.”

When filing a financial affidavit to obtain a public defender, Pereya said she had no income, investments or other money to pay for a lawyer.

But in a motion filed Thursday with the court, Grosky said an investigation revealed Pereyra has worked full time as a therapist at Arbour Counseling Services in Lawrence since December 2007, earning $35 an hour.

“Unfortunately, the entire system suffers when a person who has the ability to hire her own lawyer lies under oath to snatch for herself services that are meant to help our most needy defendants,” he said.

A records search showed Pereya has three vehicles registered under her name, including a Mercedes and BMW sport utility vehicle. It also revealed six other vehicles registered under her name since 2007, court documents said.

Pereya originally faced a misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to a year in jail. But the charge was upgraded to a felony that could see her spend at least several years in state prison.

Pereya was convicted of theft in 10th Circuit Court in July 2009 and in Rockingham Superior Court in January 2011. Additionally, on On September 5, 2013, she entered into a consent agreement with the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Social Workers, agreeing to pay a the Board a fine of $1,000 for practicing social work without a license. Pereyra, who possesses a Masters degree in Social Work, was employed beginning in August 2005 at Arbour Counseling Services in Lawrence, Massachusetts in the position of “Clinical Therapist, Masters Level.” Prior to that, she’d been a Student Intern at Arbour. The Board’s document states that between approximately November 8, 2007 and January 1, 2008, Pereyra met with and provided social worker services to client “YR.”

Source: Doug Ireland, “Woman could face more charges in Salem theft case,” Eagle Tribune,

February 25, 2014

Psychiatric nurse jailed for four years for stabbing neighbor

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:59 pm

A PSYCHIATRIC nurse who stabbed his neighbour in a Limerick apartment block – after luring him out by setting fire to his door – has been jailed for two years.

John Michael Barrett, 49, who is originally from Liverpool and was residing in apartment 5 at Catherine Place at the time, pleaded guilty to arson and assault causing harm on March 31, 2013.

Judge Carroll Moran told the court that he was no jurisdiction to repatriate Barrett home to England to serve his sentence, after hearing that “life isn’t exactly a bed of roses for an Englishman in an Irish prison.”

His barrister said he is reminded daily of Anglo-Irish history by his fellow inmates.

Limerick Circuit Court heard he and a tenant in another flat had been drinking eight bottles of cider and Captain Morgan’s rum that Sunday before Barrett erupted in an “unusual and unique outburst of temper and rage”.

The court heard that the defendant lit his Liverpool scarf to start the fire at the door of his neighbour’s apartment to lure him out.

The injured party, aged 41, told gardaí that as he inspected the damage caused by the fire after being alerted by another neighbour, Barrett “snuck up and stuck a blade in my hip, then stuck it in my chest.”

He told gardai: “Barrett started getting gobby with me was getting in my face”, and physical blows were exchanged.

The bread knife’s nine-inch serrated blade bent after the first strike and the judge was told the stab wounds “weren’t terribly deep.”

The injured party grabbed the knife, bit Barrett in the arm to escape and ran down the stairs. He was outside the main door when the gardai arrived, and the knife was located in the hallway.

Barrett, who retreated back into his apartment and waited for gardai to arrive, was arrested at midnight on April 1, and was co-operative with gardai. He admitted to gardai that his actions weren’t in self defence, saying: “I attacked him in the hallway and I remember sticking a knife in his chest”.

Defending barrister Michael Collins said his client does not have any significant previous convictions, made full and drank admissions and expressed remorse for his actions.

He had been living in the flat for three months, but had been living in Limerick for three years, and was employed by an agency as a psychiatric nurse.

However, the court heard “he has no prospects of such a career now..his career is over”.

He had previously been residing in Sweden and England, but moved back to Ireland in 2009.

Both men were intoxicated when gardai arrived and an ambulance was called, but both men refused medical assistance.

He has been in custody since June of last year when he failed to appear in court for a remand date, and is now undertaking FETAC courses in psychology and accountancy in prison.

Mr Collins said Barrett, who has grown up children, “won’t be seen in this court or any other court again” and now has a different lifestyle.

Facing a maximum sentence of life in prison for arson and five years for assault causing harm, Judge Moran suspended the final two years of a four year sentence and bound him to the peace for four years.

Judge Moran said it was “very lucky” that the victim made a good recovery, both for the victim himself and the defendant’s predicament, as he could have faced more serious charges.

He took into account that there was “an element of temper and being out of control” in this case, rather than pre-meditation.

Source: Anne Sheridan, “Psychiatric nurse jailed for stabbing in Limerick,” Limerick Leader, February 22, 2014.

Child awarded $1.5 million in tardive dyskinesia malpractice case

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:58 pm

On February 11, 2014 a Chicago jury awarded $1.5 million to an autistic child who developed a severe case of tardive dyskinesia and tardive akathisia while being treated by psychiatrists with Risperdal and then Zyprexa between 2002 and 2007. The drug-induced disorder was diagnosed when he was fifteen years old and by then had become disabling and irreversible.

Tardive dyskinesia describes a group of persistent or permanent movement disorders caused by antipsychotic (neuroleptic) drugs including Risperdal, Zyprexa, Invega, Abilify, Geodon, Seroquel, Latuda, Fanapt and Saphris. In addition to typical tardive dyskinesia spasms and twitches of his face, eyelids, and tongue, the youngster developed a severe case of tardive akathisia involving torturous internal agitation that drove him into constant, unrelenting motion.

According to Ithaca, New York psychiatrist Peter R. Breggin, MD, a medical expert in the case, the boy was diagnosed with autism as a child and then started on SSRI antidepressants before the age of seven. He continued to be treated with the antidepressants Zoloft and then Paxil which caused his mental condition and behavior to deteriorate. Dr. Breggin testified in court that antidepressants very frequently cause severe emotional and behavioral disturbances in children. He used a flipchart to draw a diagram of the brain for the jury to graphically explain to them how the antipsychotic drugs work by blocking dopamine neurotransmission and how that leads to a compensatory reaction in the brain that causes tardive dyskinesia. Dr. Breggin’s complete trial testimony can be read here.

Instead of removing the child from the offending antidepressants, his first psychiatrist started him on Risperdal (risperidone). His second psychiatrist, Howard Segal, MD, who was the defendant in the case, continued him on Risperdal and then Zyprexa for two and one half years, despite the appearance of tardive dyskinesia symptoms. Dr. Breggin explained to the jury how antipsychotic drugs cause tardive dyskinesia at a high rate in children and adults, and how the doctor’s negligent actions caused the boy to develop severe tardive dyskinesia and tardive akathisia.

In response to the jury verdict, Dr. Breggin stated that psychiatric drugs do much more harm than good in treating autistic children and that he hoped the case would serve as a reminder and an alert that autistic children (like all distressed children) need caring psychological, social and educational interventions, and not psychiatric drugs.

Dr. Breggin is the author of many scientific articles and books. His most recent book is Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and their Families. His website is

The Chicago attorney in the case was Francis P. Morrissey. The malpractice case was Angel v. Segal, State of Illinois, In the Circuit Court of Cook Count, Illinois, County Department, Law Division, No. 09 L 3496.

Source: “$1.5 Million Award in Child Tardive Dyskinesia Malpractice,”, February 11, 2014.

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