Archive for the ‘Whistleblower’ Category

SSA whistle-blowers in attorney-judge scheme testify about harassment

October 10, 2013

Current and former Social Security Administration employees testified Oct. 7 that they were persecuted and harassed for speaking up about alleged collusion between a disability lawyer and a judge.

“Management has been allowed to harass, intimidate, oppress, stalk, discipline, ostracize, monitor and make my life as miserable as possible for the last 7 years,” said Sarah Carver, a senior case technician at the SSA’s regional Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in Huntington, W.V., before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

According to a report from the committee, David Daugherty, an administrative law judge at the SSA office in Huntington, colluded with Eric Conn, an attorney in Stanville, Ky., to approve at least 1,800 claimants for disability benefits. The bank records of Judge Daugherty and his daughter contain $96,000 in cash deposits that he has refused to explain, while Conn received more than $4 million in attorney fees from his SSA cases.

Located in a town of 500 people, Conn’s firm was the third highest paid disability law firm in the country thanks to its SSA fees, the report says.

Carver, who still works at the SSA office in Huntington, said at the hearing that it was not difficult to observe the scheme between Conn and Daugherty. “It was done in such openness,” she said.

Daugherty, who has retired from SSA, personally assigned himself Conn’s cases, holding up to 20 hearing for his clients in a single day, while most judges held 15-20 hearings in an entire week. He approved virtually all of them, “in assembly-line fashion,” the report says. Other judges approved disability benefits in about 60 percent of cases.

Jennifer Griffith, a former master docket clerk at the SSA office in Huntington, noted at the hearing that judges are not supposed to be involved in choosing cases, in order to avoid favoritism. She called the proceedings for Conn’s clients “sham hearings.”

Griffith testified that when she discovered the improper docketing of cases, she thought her supervisors would be glad to hear that she had found the issue and could correct it. Instead, she said, she was persecuted.

“At one point, my supervisor would time every action I took during the day, including how long I spent in the bathroom,” she told the committee.

Full Article and Source:
SSA whistle-blowers in attorney-judge scheme testify about harassment

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NJ: Appeals Court Overturns Verdict in Whistle-Blowing Case

April 3, 2013

A state appeals court has overturned a verdict against a Bridgewater nursing home accused of firing a nurse in retaliation for him reporting allegedly improper patient care to government agencies in January 2008.

Jurors in March 2012 agreed with the claim made by James Hitesman that his termination from Bridgeway Senior Healthcare violated the Conscientious Employee Protection Act, or CEPA, which is designed to protect employees in whistle-blower cases.
That CEPA claim was based in part on Hitesman’s contention that he was fired when, in keeping with a professional code of ethics for nurses, he reported the improper patient care, according to his attorney, Paul Castronovo.

But the appellate judges found that since the code of ethics only applies to nurses, it cannot be cited as part of a CEPA claim against Bridgeway. In addition, the appellate decision released Friday said Hitesman “ lacked an objectively reasonable belief that Bridgeway’s conduct constituted improper quality of patient care or violated public policy.”

Full Article and Source:
Appeals Court Overturns Verdict in Whistle-Blowing Case Against a Bridgewater Nursing Home

Lokuta sues former judges over removal from bench

February 13, 2013

Deposed former Luzerne County Judge Ann H. Lokuta, silent for more than 15 months after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected her appeal, re-emerged with a vengeance Wednesday, firing a federal civil rights lawsuit at the colleagues and officials she said conspired to oust her from the bench.

Lokuta, the first woman to sit on the Luzerne County bench, filed the lawsuit in an attempt to reverse a state judicial discipline panel’s ruling four years ago that removed her from office, stripped her state-funded medical benefits, life insurance and vested pension, and precluded her from holding future judicial office. Lokuta, 59, also asked for unspecified monetary damages.

Lokuta and her attorneys, George A. Michak and Ronald V. Santora, reiterated in the lawsuit her long-held contention that former county president Judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan orchestrated her removal because she cooperated with federal investigators probing their pocketing of $2.8 million in payoffs from the backers of a pair of for-profit detention centers.

Lokuta claimed the former judges testified against her before the state Court of Judicial Discipline to punish her for continuing to speak to federal agents. The former judges, she said, used their influence over courthouse personnel to persuade more than two dozen other witnesses to substantiate allegations Lokuta showed up late for court, berated attorneys and court staff members and misappropriated county resources.

“Lokuta was subject to relentless intimidation and retaliation by (Conahan and Ciavarella), particularly Conahan, as they controlled the Luzerne County Courthouse as their private domain and crushed anyone who failed to follow their directives,” the lawsuit said.

Full Article & Source:
Lokuta sues former judges over removal from bench

See Also:
Lokuta’s Last Shot at Reinstatement

Recommended Blog: Medical Whistleblower

October 19, 2012
Dr. Janet Parker began her advocacy work with an internship at a residential facility that served children with emotional needs. She went on to attain a Masters in Science in Education (Curriculum Development, Supervision and Administration). Dr. Parker was a trained foster parent and worked with foster child advocacy issues. She worked in humane education as Farm Supervisor at the Massachusetts American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and worked to help develop animal assisted therapy in conjunction with Dr. Leo Bustad’s Delta Society Program at Washington State University. At WSU, she took graduate study in neuroanatomy and neuropharmacology at the Washington State University School of Veterinary Medicine and then went on to complete a doctorate degree in Veterinary Medicine and the practiced clinical veterinary medicine for 10 years. Now retired, she works as a human rights advocate providing information and advocacy support for others.
 

Source: Medical Whistleblower Blog

El Paso State Center Ex-Worker Alleges Abuse of Residents

June 4, 2012

A state-supported living center employee who complained about alleged abuses at the facility claims she was fired for speaking out.

Sylvia Burgos said she was fired after she filed a complaint with the state over conditions that she says could endanger residents of the El Paso State Supported Living Center at 6700 Delta.

“They fired me and I’m gone, but I’m worried about the residents who are still there and what might happen to them,” said Burgos, a former direct-service provider who had assisted a special-needs resident who was taken to an emergency room with a perforated colon.

“I offered to take a polygraph and requested one to prove that I was telling the truth, but they terminated me instead,” she said.

The center, which helps people with special needs and has 145 beds, referred questions about Burgos and her allegations about the center’s employees to the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, or DADS, in Austin. The department oversees the El Paso center, which has 126 residents and provides 24-hour residential services, including comprehensive behavioral-treatment services and health-care services, including physician, nursing and dental services.

According to a May 22 report by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission/Office of Inspector General in El Paso, the office received a complaint on April 25 alleging that Burgos made a false report to a peace officer at the El Paso center. That finding was issued after Burgos filed her report against the state center.

Burgos’ says her allegedly false statement became the focus of the investigation by Office of Inspector General Officer Efrain Sianez — instead of her abuse allegations.

Other center staff members, who asked not to be named because they fear reprisals, said Burgos’ firing will have a chilling effect on future reports of abuse by the staff.

Full Article and Source:
El Paso State Center Ex-Worker Alleges Abuse of Residents

Janet Parker: Expanding Network of Abusive Guardianships

February 24, 2012

In the U.S.A. there has been a growing problem of abuse of the elderly and disabled due to a covert system of guardianship or conservatorship. This covert system of power and control is enforced through the judicial system. It is manipulated for use by fraudsters, abusers and persons wielding undue influence for financial advantage. The wards have lost the right to complain, because they have been stripped legally of all their rights, left defenseless and subject to exploitation by the very people chosen to protect them; they are now invisible and voiceless. There is a growing trend for the courts to appoint total strangers who do guardianship duties as a business for profit. The for-profit guardian is appointed to take over the decision making process and often times given total and absolute control over the life, liberty and property of their wards.

In the U.S.A. the guardianship system offers few procedural protections, and has spawned a profit-driven professional guardianship industry that often enriches itself at the expense of society’s most vulnerable members–the mentally ill. Yet despite numerous calls for reform, most states have done little to monitor professional guardians and prevent abuse and neglect. The U.S.A. federal government should play an increased role in the protection of incapacitated persons.

Full Article and Source:
Expanding Network of Abusive Guardianships

See Also:
Medical Whistleblower

NASGA’s “An Open Letter to Congress and the White House”

Edmund Finucane, Unsung Hero

October 8, 2011

The following is the story of a local citizen who helped the Santa Barbara nursing home Central Coast Nursing Center lose its license to operate.

He is Edmund Finucane, a 70-year-old man, a good Samaritan who has been visiting this facility at 3880 Via Lucero (near La Cumbre and State) for 28 years. There are such people out there, who volunteer their time to bring comfort to nursing home residents, often put away by their relatives and not visited enough by them.

Edmund Finucane had visited residents for all those years (probably over a thousand times) without having any problems with the management. After the facility’s activities director asked him to, Edmund volunteered to lead some religious services at the facility–during which he played violin! He did this for several years. In addition to this, he assisted with his denomination’s services at the facility. He is well known by many residents now living there.

But just within the last year, his life took a big turn after he found terrible abuse and started reporting it to the state. For the first time, he was told he couldn’t visit the nursing home, that it constituted trespassing. Feeling that the residents had the right to have visitors, on January 26, 2011, Edmund disobeyed those orders, and found himself arrested. He spent time in jail at taxpayer expense. He had never been arrested before.

The District Attorney’s office treated him like a criminal. Instead of persecuting the man who reported the abuse, the D.A.’s office should have joined the California Department of Public Health in going after this facility. How many of our tax dollars did the D.A.’s office use in its effort to portray Edmund as a criminal? And why didn’t they have the wherewithal to treat him better? Didn’t they know the sad history of this location, under different owners – the long history of elder abuse occurring there? If not, why not? Instead of cooperating with the nursing home’s efforts to intimidate him, they should have given him an award.

The prosecuting attorney for the DA’s office said they’d drop the charge if Edmund agreed to accept her condition, that he “behave himself” while visiting the nursing home. The nursing home had its own, additional requirements for visitation. They wanted him to fill out an employment application and get tested for tuberculosis. They also wanted him to get written permission from the next of kin. Never mind that the residents have full constitutional and human rights, including the right to meet with visitors of their choice.

Because Edmund felt that he had done nothing wrong, and that agreeing to the D.A.’s demand was akin to admitting guilt, he insisted on going to trial. He couldn’t afford an attorney, so he represented himself.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing Home Whistleblower’s Unsung Story

>Scott Bloch Will Spend One Month in Jail

April 5, 2011

>On March 30, 2011 Judge Deborah A. Robinson denied Scott Bloch’s motion to reconsider his guilty plea on the criminal contempt of Congress case USA v Scott Bloch.

Scott Bloch was the former Special Counsel for the Office of Special Counsel and was accused of dismissing hundreds of whistleblower cases without investigation.

Scott Bloch, in the face of a federal investigation, asked Geeks on Call to wipe his computer clean of all digital files thus destroying evidence that the FBI was seeking in the Congressional investigation. On March 30, 2011 Scott Bloch was sentenced to one month in prison by a D.C. federal court.

Full Article and Source:
Medical Whistleblower

Medical Whistleblower to Present at US Social Forum 2010

June 21, 2010

Medical Whistleblower is proud to be a presenter to the US Social Forum 2010.

Come see us on June 24 and 25 at 10 AM-Noon

Cobo Hall – Detroit, MI

If you can’t join us in person – please join us by radio talk show.

My Blog Talk Radio show can be heard three different ways:

1) Call in by any phone – here in the USA or abroad

2) Streaming audio from the website
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/medicalwhistleblower

3) Download archive mp3 file from the website after the broadcast.

US Social Forum – Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network

Date / Time: 6/23/2010, 9:00 PM -10 PM and also 6/24/10, at 9 PM -10PM

Call-in Number: (347) 857-4599

Source: Medical Whistleblower

What Motivates Whistleblowers

June 6, 2010

As Big Pharma has gone to the Justice Department woodshed lately–and come out with some record-setting settlements of off-label marketing claims–we’ve heard about the whistleblowers who often get those Justice investigations going, by suing over misbehaviors at their own companies. Specifically, about the cash they get when they share in government settlements, as the whistelblower law provides.

But a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that the money isn’t what motivates most whistleblowers to begin with, and the final payment may come only after severe upheaval in a whistleblower’s professional and personal life.

So if their impetus wasn’t money, what was it? Integrity, for one. Fear of legal consequences for themselves, personally, if they participated in what they saw as fraudulent behavior. And worries about how off-label use of drugs could hurt patients’ health. Many said they protested internally first, filing suits only after those efforts didn’t work–or even backfired.

As they pursued their whistleblowing, these folks often spent so much on legal fees that their marriages and personal finances suffered. The stress may have triggered panic attacks, insomnia, shingles, psoriasis, autoimmune disease and so on.

Full Article and Source:
NEJM: Wherefore Art Thou Whistleblowers?