This kind of behavior is exactly what I saw and have been complaining about for years. The f#%@#$g contractors submit a program which looks good on paper, get the deal, worth tens of millions of dollars, and then do damn near nothing. I SAW it, day in and day out.
Like so many good articles, this one is lengthy. For many more examples, and a better understanding of the depth of the fraud, click on The Whole Story.
I am sending this article to several key officials, like the A G and the Lt Governor and the Governor, and the U S Attorney, asking: “Why are these crooks not prosecuted?!” But I have done that before and heads remain in the sand, reluctant to admit that the system is so out of control.
Excerpts from the Article:
Maranda Cekmecelioglu really could have benefited from some therapy. The 28-year-old was sent to prison on drug-related charges and had just lost her father and brother within 11 months in 2017. The court ordered counseling for her through Crest, a taxpayer-funded program designed to help drug offenders with addiction and behavioral health issues.
But Cekmecelioglu, who goes by “Cek,” said she didn’t get any help at Crest South, which is run by Connections Community Support Programs in Georgetown. Documents Cek shared with The News Journal indicate she received two treatment plans, and presumably counseling, on November 28 and December 28. But the records are a lie, Cek said. In over three months there, Cek said she didn’t get any one-on-one counseling. She said she received both treatment plans in January 2018 right before she was discharged. The plans, Cek said, were made up and backdated.
“I never had any actual formal counseling,” she said. “It was just like: How are you? This is your treatment plan. I need you to sign these papers.” Cek is not alone. A News Journal investigation found Connections has failed to provide adequate addiction treatment for female inmates at Crest South.
The investigation, based on interviews with 22 former employees and program participants as well as email conversations, also found that in dozens of cases, the program falsified patient records.
Four former Connections employees at Crest South told The News Journal they have direct knowledge that counselors fabricated notes of therapy sessions that never occurred, made up vague treatment plans to correspond with them and backdated records to appear as if Connections was providing monthly counseling.
Three former employees also said Connections counselors inflated the length of counseling sessions in patient records (10 minutes could become 45 on paper, one source said).
“I don’t think we need a Ph.D. in moral philosophy for this one,” said Dominic Sisti, assistant professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania. “This is obvious fraud if the allegations prove to be true.”
‘Last year, Delaware hit the highest death toll for drug overdoses it has seen since it began tracking them: 400 people. A report commissioned by the attorney general’s office estimated there are over 11,000 Delawareans who have a substance use disorder. And 46 percent of Delaware prisoners – roughly 6,300 people – struggle with substance use, according to a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Connections, which receives more than $15 million a year for its mental health and substance abuse services for Delaware inmates, disputes the claims of record falsification. The organization said it is not required to provide monthly counseling sessions but strived to do so anyway.
Shannon Lasek, a former substance abuse counselor at Crest South, said she knows firsthand that Connections falsified records because she did it herself. In November 2018, she said her bosses explicitly instructed her to “catch up” the empty files of inmates who were about to be released from the program and hadn’t received treatment. Over several interviews, Lasek described making up and backdating at least 30 fake counseling sessions and generic treatment plans for inmates, some of whom she’d never spoken to.
Lasek said she quit in mid-December because she couldn’t do it anymore. “I had to pretty much create a program that didn’t happen,” Lasek said.
But emails obtained by The News Journal between a former employee and the employee’s superiors show the program was struggling with a months-long backlog. In one email, the supervisor directs the subordinate to create a treatment plan for a patient over a month after it was supposed to be completed. The News Journal is not publishing the emails to protect the source who fears retaliation.
In separate interviews over several weeks, 12 former inmates who completed the program in the last four years said they did not receive any individual counseling whatsoever. Three others recalled having one session, and two others remembered having multiple sessions — but all of them said those sessions lasted about 10 minutes or less.
Of those 17 people, five said counselors gave them backdated, cookie cutter treatment plans and instructed the clients to sign them. Many referred to the program as “a joke.”
“I was told so many times: You’re not going to win,” she said. “Connections is big and powerful.” Lasek said it was difficult for her to speak out about what she experienced, including her personal actions, because Connections has a stake in so much of Delaware’s healthcare industry.
“Connections owns everything,” she said. “They’ve monopolized this entire state.”
She worries about how whistleblowing will affect her career, she said, but she felt it was the right thing to do.
“I’m talking because addicts are people who deserve the treatment they were sent to,” she said.
On Tuesday, Connections said Crest South staff is currently undergoing “retraining sessions” to ensure staff members know and understand policies.
Former Crest South participant O’Connor said people shouldn’t be left with the impression that the program didn’t have any success stories. There were some. “But it wasn’t because of the program. It was in spite of the program,” she said.
“The whole state of Delaware is lacking addiction treatment. It’s sad that this is what we’re offering people at their lowest and expecting them to change because of it. As a state and as a prison system, if you’re truly trying to rehabilitate people and make them productive members of society, the treatment needs to be actual treatment.”
Letter to the Editor – It’s called Fraud and Theft! – 5/13/19
I read with interest the recent article about employees of the prison contractor, Connections, falsifying records concerning patients’ treatment. This kind of behavior is exactly what I saw when I was incarcerated more than 10 years ago, in the same so-called program, “Crest”, and I have been complaining about it for years. The criminal contractors submit a program which looks good on paper, get the deal, worth tens of millions of dollars, and then do damn near nothing. They are brazen in their abuse of the system, because they think that because the victims are “just prisoners” nobody will care. Well, the victims are the public too; it is your money wasted, and you suffer the crimes committed when these “treatment programs” fail!
I SAW it, day in and day out.
The depth of the fraud related in the new article is outrageous. Supervisors and staff lie like crazy and falsify records. There are numerous crimes here,(conspiracy, fraud, theft, and more) and what I have asked before, and want to know again, is “why are the perpetrators not prosecuted?”. Where are the Attorney General and/or the U S Attorney for Delaware, in the face of such extensive evidence? Do they not want to acknowledge that the system is so out of control? Until they take the action required – vigorous prosecution – this conduct will continue, costing YOU, the taxpayer, millions of dollars, failing the people these programs are supposed to benefit, and increasing the public’s skepticism about and lack of faith in government officials.
Ken Abraham, former Deputy Attorney General, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
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