This morning I did a live interview about this blog and about the FBI raid on my clinic one year ago. It was recorded at the radio station WSKY/WKTK and will be aired on Saturday and Sunday June 30th and 31st, at 11 pm. The host, Doug Clifford, had seen my blog and requested that I be on his show.
"Your blog is three weeks old and already has 1,900 pageviews?!" he exclaimed. He speculated that "the plight of the solo physician" might be a timely accompaniment to this week's Supreme Court decision on Obamacare.
In my e-mail today an undisclosed attorney, whom I haven't met, sent me several admonitory messages after reading my blog.
"I have no doubt you are innocent of any charges where criminal intent is required," he wrote by way of introduction. "But I strongly urge you to dispense with your blog immediately if it remotely discusses anyone at the U.S. Courthouse."
"I'm simply telling my story," I wrote back. "I harbor no ill-will toward anyone at the Courthouse. But I'd like to understand what is going on. Perhaps someone who reads the blog will have an idea."
He answered with apparent confidence. "False, contrived testimony from the prosecution is the foundation of every USA 18 USC I know. These tactics are part of U.S. Government official operations guidelines."
I told him that I thought I might be the victim of "false, contrived testimony" by individuals who hope to win a bounty from the government, but that I had faith the truth would prevail.
His last piece of advice was to "confine comments to the appropriate forum, such as legal pleadings, and/or official complaints to the appropriate government agency."
That reminded me of a period last year when I thought "appropriate government agencies" might help me. After all, I abide by the law, pay taxes, vote, and love my country. I know I have rights, but need help locating them in this particular instance. I appreciate that I am still permitted to drive wherever I wish, shop, work, eat, and breathe. But these days I feel sort of terrorized.
I wrote a letter with a synopsis of the raid and forfeitures of my clinic, and asked for assistance. I sent it to thirty-eight government officials, including local state representatives in the Florida legislature, my U.S. Senate and House of Representatives delegates, the Governor, Mayor, State Court, Attorney General...even President Obama.
Only four of my elected public representatives responded--with form letters, all instructing me to find an attorney to give me advice, and wishing me the best.
I contacted the Civil Liberties Union. My case was not the type their agents prefer.
I contacted newspaper journalists, but they wanted to know if there were any other doctors in the same situation. The Wall Street Journal and New York Times seemed interested, especially if there might be a pattern of government intrusion on medical clinics. I contacted the Huffington Post and the Galen Institute, but didn't know how to pitch what was happening. I ran out of places to register "official complaints."
When I got to the clinic after the radio interview my billing specialist requested a private conference with me. She had received a strange call from a prior employee, someone who had quit one month before the raid at Colasante Clinic...therefore someone who may have been one of the government "informants" suggested by the e-mailing lawyer above. She identified herself as Shanna Owens, and said she was returning a call about her bill.
It's true that when Shanna left she never repaid a loan of several thousand dollars I had tendered, at her request, to help her family through an emergency. Shanna had worked five years for me and I was happy to help. But the shaken employee said Shanna didn't mention this loan, and had confabulated the reason for the call. She felt certain Shanna was scouting for the FBI, trying to see if my billing specialist had quit, hoping for another "witness" on their side.
It seems likely that an ex-employee could be so tempted by the possibility of a whistleblower fee that she would say things to an eager FBI agent to make him think he had a big case to chase.
A few minutes later one of my x-ray techs said that an FBI agent, Robert Murphy, had gone to her house this morning and spoken to her father. This is the name of the FBI agent who had spearheaded the raid on my office in June 2011.
"He flashed his badge, said his name was Murphy, and wanted to speak with me," she said, visibly disturbed.
"What did your father say?"
"He told the FBI agent I was at work and would be home tonight."
I got busy doing clinic work, occupying myself fully with my patients' galaxies of symptoms. I didn't have time to surmise about the FBI's motives.
When office hours were over I went to the track with a handful of my employees, as usual, and ran two miles. I didn't want to foster a sense of uneasiness in my heart . But when I got home I couldn't log onto my blog. The host said, "You currently have no blogs on this site."
My first thought was: "The feds have taken my blog!"
Around the time of the clinic raid last year my e-mail account was hacked and erased, sending into cyberspace years of files and contacts. Could the FBI have been responsible for that?
In fact my blog is still intact. It turned out to be a log-on aberration. "I must be getting paranoid," I thought.
Then I remembered what one of my professional friends said a few months ago: "You have every reason to be paranoid."