Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Day Before the Shortest Day of the Year

     Yesterday all the lawyers in my case had a conference.  There were five of them.  I was not present.
     "It's about time," I said, the day before.
     "Don't get your hopes up," Mark, my civil lawyer, warned me.  "It's very preliminary."
     "Preliminary to what?" I asked.
     "I don't know," he said.
     "What's the conference about?"
     "We'll see."
     It took place by phone.  Words, miles between them, the whoosh of air in the background, and lots of static.  No faces, no hand movements, no big clues.  Five people in different parts of the country, talking, but trying not to talk.
     Isn't 80% of communication nonverbal?  I figured my lawyers might get 20% across.  But that was too optimistic.
     I fended off waves of nausea all afternoon.
     I vacuumed the house, and visited the chickens.  I washed clothes and hung them on the clotheslines.  I filled the bird feeders, picked three oranges, and took a hike in the woods with the dogs.
     Then I played Bach's "Christmas Oratorio" and wrapped presents at the kitchen table.
     I was putting presents for my brother, Joe, in a big box when my lawyers called to report on the conference.
     Joe is my favorite brother because when I was little he took me fishing.  He knew the best places for trout--a secret spot where the Monocassee Creek ran under a set of old train tracks.  The fish convened there in the shadows. We'd sit together for hours in the pre-dawn, with our fishing lines hanging from the trestles.
     Once a train came around the corner and stunned me with its headlights.  My brother yanked me from the tracks in the nick of time.
     "You've gotta move when the train comes," he yelled as I lay crumpled in the grass.  I could hardly hear him over the roar of metal, but I saw his face and it was twisted with terror.
     "He saved my life," I told my mother that evening as she fried the fish.  She laughed, unbelieving.
     In his late teens Joe became strange, hiding out in his room, inscribing "Why Me?" on pieces of paper he'd tape to doors and mirrors.  He listened to Peter Frampton and The Who, especially the song about Tommy, the pinball wizard.
     When he got sent home from college for wandering the streets in an altered state, and was diagnosed with schizophrenia, I stayed up all night listening to what his devils had been telling him in their conversations together.  It took weeks for medicines to wrench him back to our world.
     "What happened?" I asked my lawyers after the conference call.
     "Not much," Mark said.
     "But we have good news," added Gil.
     "What is it?"
     "Corey Smith said nothing," he answered.  "Literally, nothing."
     "How is that good news?"
     "Well," said Mark.  "We laid down our two main requirements, which are that you can't agree to criminal charges and you can't have your Medicare number rescinded.  Those things would make it impossible for you to practice medicine again."
      "Are we bargaining about criminal charges?" I asked.
      "We're trying to have a conversation with the prosecutors," Mark said.  "And Corey could have said, 'No way.  I'm indicting her.'"
     "And he didn't," said Gil.  "Which is a good thing."
     "He's had three and a half years to indict me," I said.
     "These things take time," said Mark.
     "So he still could indict me?"
     "Of course."
     "But time is the defendant's best friend," said Gil, repeating an old saw.  "And you've had lots of time."
    "It's a good start," Mark said.  "But we have a long way to go."
     "A long way," Gil echoed.
      I told my son, Simon, about the turn of events.
     "Why me?" I asked.  The question belonged to my brother, in my mind, and made me feel close to him.
     "Why you?" Simon repeated.  "Who knows?  We all have problems."
     "Do you think I should refrain from writing about this in my blog?" I asked.
     "You've never been known for subtlety or diplomacy before, Mom," he said.  "Why stop now?"


  1. Part 1 of 2

    Corey was silent because he doesn’t have a criminal case that will sustain a conviction and he knows it. At this point he’ll consider anything your willing to give up.

    The timeline of events in your case is what convinces me of your innocence.

    Documents establish:
    March 16, 2009 – Hawthorne Clinic took over by new owner Patricia McCullough. (Florida Official Corporation Records)

    December 7, 2009 – Hawthorne Medical Center Employees Protest Wage Delays Under New Owner Patricia McCullough (TV20 Video)

    December 21, 2009 - Colasante Complaint for Mortgage Foreclosure (Alachua County Clerk of Court)

    June 29, 2010 – United States of America and State of Florida ex rel. Patricia McCullough Plaintiffs v. Ona Colasante, M.D. Defendant – False Claims Act Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial filed by Barry A. Cohen, A Tampa Law Firm (Case 1:10-cv-00126-MCR-GRJ)

    June 6, 2011 - Certification of Notice to Consumer Debtor(s) Under 3-42(b) of the Bankruptcy Code, Signed by Patricia O. McCullough, Verification of Mailing List Matrix of Creditors (Attached to Discharge of Debtor in a Chapter 7 Case dated: 11/8/11; United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Kentucky Lexington Division Case Number: 11-51627-tnw).

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  3. Part 2 of 2

    On 03/16/2009 Dr. Ona Colasante turned over a thriving (since 1998) fully equipped clinic with a large staff, two physicians, four mid-level providers, and 8,000 patients to a new owner, Patricia McCullough. I’m curious about Patricia Ann Swift Hensby of Ellicott City, MD who was named Secretary of Hawthorne Clinic in the Florida Official Corporation Records. It must have been problematic for her to tend to the duties of her office considering the distance.

    In the TV20 video of 12/07/2009 there are 6 protesters demanding their paychecks from the owner of Hawthorne clinic. The 6 former employees claim they haven’t been paid for four weeks. The reporter stated that it was back on November 6 that the clinic ran out of money. Pat McCullough stated, “If they are trying to close down the clinic we are almost there”. There is an explicit expression in business that states, ‘Run Out of Money & You Are Out of Business”. And you damn well better be out of money if you claim that you cannot pay your employees. To me this means that the true date that Hawthorne Medical Clinic could be considered a defunct company was November 6, 2009.

    By December 21st of the same year Dr. Ona Colasante asked the court for relief. The record states that it was a complaint for mortgage foreclosure. I’m assuming that means that Patricia McCullough failed to make promised payments on the Hawthorne Clinic. I’m speculating that Dr. Colasante may have had the same thoughts as I did while viewing the TV20 video.

    Five months later, on 6/29/2010, Patricia McCullough’s Tampa Attorney filed a whistleblower suit on behalf of his client, Patricia McCullough against Dr. Ona Colasante. I don’t think the complaint materialized over night at the speed I’ve observed lawyers work. It also must have taken considerable time to locate and interview law firms that could potentially file a whistleblower lawsuit. It also occurs to me that it must have taken months and months to go through 8,000 patient records, years of billing records and receipts in order to identify *millions of dollars in false claims and *millions of dollars in payments related to false claims. I’m speculating that it cost a bundle of money to search out millions of dollars worth of alleged wrongdoing. Resources of money and attention from an owner that may have been better utilized to make a new business a success; had that been the overriding goal. I have no clue how the millions of dollar figure came about and waiting to view documentation in that specific amount.

    I saw where Patricia McCullough stated on 06/06/2011 that she was collecting unemployment from the State of Florida. Patricia McCullough also certified that she owed money to 98 creditors.

    I would be very interested in reading the depositions from former employees about what transpired during the period March 16, 2009 and June 29, 2010. I cannot help but think that Patricia McCullough was not at all focused on making a go of the Hawthorne Clinic.

    * Million dollar figures come from Robert O. Davis, First Assistant United States Attorney, July 23, 2013, Complaint by Feds

  4. Very good oversight of clinic events. Everything you say is correct. While I opened the clinic in my name in August 1999, I had been working at that site since 1994, and built up a sizable following.
    It has been my contention all along that Pat McCullough had no intention of making parlaying her purchase of Hawthorne Medical Center into a successful business for herself. From the moment she purchased it she focused on identifying: a) ways to collect on the A/R, even on the charges she claimed in her lawsuit were fraudulently billed; b) ways to aggrandize her purchase into a lucrative whisteblower suit, so she wouldn't have to do the hard work of understanding the business and continuing its past success; c) ways to get out of paying any bills; d) ways to get loan money based on the clinic's history of success; e) firing people who knew what she was up to, and keeping me, the past owner, out of the picture altogether. I did not know Pat filed for Unemployment compensation. It is the greatest of ironies.

  5. Although I don't have depositions from my former employees (yet) I can quote what they told me was happening in the months after Pat's purchase, and what they continue to tell me about the awful time even now. Maybe I'll turn that information into a blog post, without mentioning specific names of past employees.