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Chiropractors disciplined for substance abuse, sexual misconduct

Posted by: Alejandra Matos Updated: August 12, 2013 - 4:53 PM

In Sunday's column, I wrote about Dr. Patrick Corrick from Brooklyn Park, who was placed on a probationary license for physically assaulting employees at the African Assistance Program. The Minnesota Chiropractic Examiners Board, which oversees Corrick's license, also found problems with his billing practices.

The disciplinary action was handed out on Aug. 1. Here are three other chiropractors who faced disciplinary action earlier this month.

Nicholas John Froehling of Spring Park- $3,000 civil penalty; Stayed suspension, given probationary license
Froehling hired a new employee, who also became his patient, in April 2009. About two months later, Froehling "dated and engaged in a sexual relationship," which lasted for two years, the disciplinary action said. He was still still providing care to the patient.
In May 2012, Froehling also engaged in a relationship with another new employee. Their relationship lasted about a month, according to the disciplinary action.
The board suspended his license for 24 months, but the suspension was stayed after 14 days. Froehling was placed on a 36-month probationary license. As part of his probation, Froehling must enroll in ethics training, refrain from contact with the former employees and is not allowed to treat a female patient unless a third party is in the room.

James Patrick Mellin II of Edina - Stayed suspension, given probationary license
Mellin has a history of drug and alcohol problems, according to the disciplinary action. His license was suspended for not following the rehabilitation procedures outlined in a previous order issued by the board in 2007. His most recent suspension was stayed, and he was given a five-year probationary license.
From 1993 to 2007, "the board received four complaints from the public alleging that [Mellin] came to work drunk or hungover, came back from lunch smelling of alcohol or marijuana, and was witnessed smoking marijuana," the order states.

Timothy Devries of Edina - Voluntary surrender
The board was monitoring Devries for alcohol dependency, according to the disciplinary action. In April, Devries tested positive for alcohol. He voluntarily surrendered his license to practice. Devries may petition for reinstatement of his license at any time.
 

State Farm accuses 1-800-ASK GARY of "massive fraud scheme"

Posted by: Alejandra Matos Updated: August 1, 2013 - 4:06 PM

State Farm filed a federal lawsuit in Florida last week against the founder of the 1-800-ASK-GARY accident referral service, accusing the company of "a massive fraud scheme."

The insurance company accuses Gary Kompothecras of fraud by taking advantage of no-fault insurance benefits that

often cover medical expenses for auto accident victims. State Farm says Kompthecras used 1-800-ASK-GARY to lure accident victims to his clinics, a violation of Florida law. The outcome of the case could affect the company's operations in Minnesota.

A lawyer for the referral service described State Farm's lawsuit as an "absurd action."

1-800-ASK -GARY is familiar to Minnesotans from its heavy advertising on buses, billboards, radio and television. The company also operates in Florida and Kentucky, which also have no-fault insurance laws. When someone is in a car accident, they can call 1-800-ASK-GARY and the company will refer accident victims to a chiropractor and often to a personal injury lawyer.

The lawsuit alleges the company never referred a patient to any health care providers other than Physicians Group in Florida. An attorney from Kentucky who is part of the referral network provided a sworn affidavit "confirming that Kompothecras required [personal injury] attorneys who received referrals from ASK GARY to refer their clients to Kompothecras-owned clinic for treatment." 

State Farm is asking for a judgment declaring all outstanding claims between the insurance company and Physicians Group to be dissolved.

Kompothecras registered his company, Physicians Group, LLC, with Minnesota in 2007. Minnesota, like Florida, is also a no-fault state, which means people involved in a car accident in Minnesota are eligible for $20,000 in personal injury protection without having to go to court to determine who was at fault. 

"The lawsuit filed by State Farm is a frivolous and malicious suit that has no merit and will be dismissed by the Court," Gregory Zitani, an attorney for Physicians Group, said in a statement. "This suit is a desperate act by State Farm, one of the largest and most profitable insurance companies, who owes Physicians Group over $9 million by its failure to pay over 1000 claims for medical costs incurred by its policy holders."

Zitani said some of State Farm's claims are relevant only to provisions of Florida law.

"Minnesota has its own rules with which Physicians Group and ASK GARY advertising are required to comply," Zitiani said. "With the assistance of local counsel, all such Minnesota laws are complied with by Physicians Group and ASK GARY."

Mark Kulda of the Minnesota Insurance Federation, a trade association that represents insurance companies, said when calling referral services like 1-800-ASK-GARY they may not be getting an unbiased referral.

"It's important to note that you may not be getting the referral that is most beneficial to you. You may be getting a referral that is most beneficial to that referral service," Kulda said. "No-Fault is set up so that it is easy to get medical care from a doctor you feel most comfortable with."

Kompothecras lives in Florida and in 2011 was named as a co-chair of Mitt Romney's Florida finance team, according to Bloomberg.

Have you called 1-800-ASK-GARY or any other accident referral service in Minnesota? We want to hear about your experience. Call 612.673.4028 or e-mail whistleblower@startribune.com.

Capitol contractor making "good faith efforts"

Posted by: Alejandra Matos Updated: July 29, 2013 - 5:51 PM

A construction company that is helping restore the State Capitol is making progress on efforts to hire more women and minorities, four months after it got a failing grade from the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.

Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey met with JE Dunn’s new diversity manager Monday and was briefed on JE Dunn’s progress, including working closely with its sub-contractors.

“We are pleased with JE Dunn’s good faith efforts to improve their workforce participation,” Lindsey said in a statement.

According to the Department of Human Rights, JE Dunn's "good faith effort" plan include:

  • Meeting with its primary subcontractors to review work plans and discuss opportunities for minority hiring for the next phase which started in June.
  • JE Dunn will host a job fairs in the upcoming year. The first will be in January.
  • The company will host a Aug. 14 "kickoff event" on the Capitol lawn to "reach out to minority business, contractors and potential employees."

In March, JE Dunn was the only company failing to meet “good faith efforts” established by the state to diversify its workforce on state-funded projects. There are no companies currently failing compliance.

 

Work-at-home schemer settles

Posted by: Jane Friedmann Updated: July 22, 2013 - 2:58 PM

 A California man has been banned from selling work-at-home opportunities after he misled his customers or didn’t give them any information at all, the Federal Trade Commission announced Monday.

Christopher A. Sterling,  doing business as sterlingvisa.com, rebatedataprocessor.com  and creditcardworker.com is also banned from selling other business opportunities covered by the FTC's Business Opportunity Rule.

Sterling falsely claimed that by paying him at least $50, a customer could make $75,600 per year processing as few as 15 applications daily for rebates or credit cards, according to an FTC complaint.

In reality, purchasers had to advertise to find their own applicants.
 
Sterling is banned from selling business opportunities or misrepresenting facts about products or services. He must destroy customer information within his control, provide future business partners with a copy of the settlement order, submit a compliance report for the next 20 years and allow the FTC to monitor his compliance.
 
He won’t have to pay a $15,000 civil penalty and a $69,289.06 judgment, unless it is found that he misrepresented his lack of ability to pay.

 

'Rachel' from 'Cardholder Services' settles with feds

Posted by: Jane Friedmann Updated: July 12, 2013 - 1:49 PM

Whistleblower has been on the trail of Rachel from Cardholder Services for years. Rachel has been the voice behind millions of illegal robocalls made over the years, pitching credit card rate reductions.

Now, the companies and people behind one robocalling scheme that used the voice of "Rachel" from "Cardholder Services" and charged up-front fees for services never provided must surrender their assets and stop scheming, according to an announcement by the Federal Trade Commission Friday.

Several companies and two individuals, all associated with the Florida company A+ Financial Center, made millions of illegal robocalls offering to obtain a reduction in the credit card interest rate consumers were paying.

The companies called phone numbers listed on the Do Not Call Registry and collected upfront fees of between $495 and $1,595 by promising rates as low as zero percent, the FTC said.

"The defendants did little if anything to help consumers lower their credit card interest rates," the FTC said.

The group is banned from robocalling, trying to sell debt relief services and making misrepresentations related to any sales attempts. The defendants may not try to collect money from past victims.

A $9.2 million judgment was entered against A+ Financial Center, LLC, Christopher L. Miano and Dana M. Miano and a handful of other businesses managed by the Mianos. The judgment will be suspended once they turn over all but $25,000 of their assets, including a 2007 Mercedes Benz Cl and two boats worth a total of about $62,000.

The original complaint was filed by the FTC in October in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the district in which the Mianos resided.

 

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