Saturday, November 30, 2013

"They're Coming to Get You"

     "You're going to be indicted any day now," my lawyer told me.
     That was twelve days ago.
     It's not the first time he's said this.  I think it's the fourth time.
     I sat on the edge of my seat.
     "After three and a half years of investigation, now they're going to haul me away?"
     "Yes," he said.
     "How sure are you?"
     "Ninety-nine point nine percent."
     The government's [sealed] case against me started in June 2009.  My office was raided on June 16, 2010.  I've been living with dire expectation ever since.  And lots of predictions, all bad.
     "How do you know for sure?" I asked.
     "The prosecutor called me.  He wanted to meet.  He said he might be willing to settle."
     "Really?" I was astonished.  "Settle?"
     The absence of ethics, when it comes to "settling," makes me sick.  But lawyers everywhere say it's the most cost-effective thing to do.
     Settling means giving a bunch of money to people in exchange for their leaving you alone.  At least that's what I thought it meant.
     "You don't want to hear the settlement offer," he told me, rolling his eyes and shaking his head.  "It's not an offer.  It's unacceptable."
     "Tell me," I insisted.  "I want to know."
     "The prosecutor wants $1.4 million, and for you to plead guilty to numerous felonies...and he wants you to do jail time."
     Felonies?  Jail time?  Millions of dollars?
     I heard this as though it were through a foghorn at the harbor on an icy night.  My lawyer was announcing a battleship about to come in, weapons at the ready, a ship hell-bent on destroying my home town.
     "Pleading guilty would mean having my medical license taken away, right?"
     "Probably," he said.
     "How is that supposed to be a settlement?"
     My lawyer laughed.  Only lawyers can laugh at times like this.
     "I guess he figures if you go to trial and are found guilty, you'll do more jail time.
     "Does he really think this is an offer we can take seriously."
     "No," my lawyer said abruptly.  "At least...I can't take it seriously."
     "So what do I do now?"
     "Prepare to get indicted."
      Indictment means the government sends people in uniform to your door at the crack of dawn, with TV and newspaper reporters jostling behind them.  They handcuff you.  They take you to jail.
     "How am I supposed to prepare for that?"
     "Well, I know you have a grown son with a severe disability.  You need to line up care for him, for when this happens."
     "What if I can't?"
     "They'll take him into protective custody."
     "That would be horrible.  He can't speak.  He can't communicate."
     "They don't care."
     "How long will I be in jail?"
     "That's the least of your worries," he said, waving his hand in the air.  "I don't care about jail!"
     The single battleship entering the harbor was being trailed by a few dozen more--all of them speedy, vicious, rapacious, stocked with massive weaponry.  They were going to decimate everything.  
     Here I am, standing on the shore in my bathrobe and my motorcycle boots, shivering in the damp air, and my lawyer is waving a flag.
     "Help!"  I cry out, into the fog.  "Help!"

Call Me Nuts, but I'm Blogging Again

     I'm writing in my blog again, because the story of my woes with the government go on.
     Yes, to those who have hankered after the pleadings in this US Gov't v. Dr. Colasante case--all of the pleadings being part of the public record, if one knows how to access the court's records--I will publish them on this blog shortly.  I'm not tech-savvy, so I have to figure out how to get them onto the blog.  I have not been trying to hide them, or hide out from the world.
     The pleadings include a qui tam set of allegations enumerated by Pat McCullough, the woman who bought my Hawthorne clinic in March 2009, and dissolved it about one year later, declaring bankruptcy, having cashed in on all its assets and having left a new set of creditors in the lurch.  The pleadings also include the government's allegations, called a "Complaint," and loosely related to Ms. McCullough's allegations.  The government's prosecutors decided to fashion their own set of allegations, which replace the qui tam case.
     It's a good thing, because the qui tam is a histrionic fabrication, a long list of silly claims, such as the following:  "Dr. Colasante instructed every nurse to put a Q-tip in every patient's ear so that she could bill for foreign body removal."  Please, find me the written protocol or memo that instructs nurses to do this, or find me the nurses who will affirm such absurd methodology, or find me the patients who say now, or will say in a court of law, Yes, this happened to me.  It's hard to know where to begin, in my self-defense, when I'm faced with statements like this.
     No, Pat McCullough, your first allegation has no truth.  Foreign-body removal and earwax irrigation are two separate services that a good family doctor's office provides, when necessary.  That's the grain of truth in this weird allegation, the small fact that affords a possibility of truth--or does it?  One would  think the government's experts could look at an accusation like this, examine the clinic records, and dismiss it.  That's not how they work.
     A recent lawyer-recruit told me that government prosecutors start work on a case by fostering a fundamentalist certainty about a person's guilt.  "In their eyes, you are the worst kind of criminal, a menace to society, and you're guilty of everything listed, and more."  Following upon that, he said, they go about looking for any shred of evidence to support their belief.   "They want to wipe you off the map."
     "Why?" I asked.
     "That's their game."
     "And let me tell you," he went on.  "They play dirty.  "Really dirty."
     I thought of my brothers cheating at marbles.  I thought of neighborhood kids pulling trump cards out of their sleeves during poker games, and taking all my nickels.  I remembered the time my sister and I took cat food to an orphanage of starving kittens whom we hoped to rehabilitate, and came home on our bicycles to a blistering beating because we were late for dinner.  My father didn't want to hear our story.  He didn't care.        
     Many months ago I took a break from my blog because my lawyers were getting anxious about it.  I wanted to protect myself.
     But what does it mean to "protect oneself" when facing off with government agents--powerful public servants who are by nature or training absolutely certain, and driven by hound-like determination to destroy their targets?
     My opponents live in that stark land of certainty, where they are right, and only they are right.  It's the abode of fundamentalists everywhere, and it must be such a pleasant, sunny place.
     All I can do, from my spot in the shadows, with my doctorly talent for doubting and questioning, for inspecting, thinking, testing and supposing, is release this S.O.S.
    "I beg your pardon, Mr. Prosecutors, but you're wrong.  You're wrong, wrong, wrong."
     It's like sending a mayfly into a roomful of buzzards.