There are times when we have to dig pretty deep to uncover wrongdoing, conflicts of interest, favoritism, and outright corruption. There are other times when the information just seems to drop into our lap.
Such is the ongoing reports of kangaroo court proceedings conducted by the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry. And how was a witness in a case against a fellow dentist rewarded with a seat on the board? And how is that dentist/board member allowed to serve as an insurance claims analyst in determining payments to other dentists in the same geographic area of his own practice?
It’s probably a good idea to provide something of a refresher to bring new readers up to speed. The State Dentistry Board previously had a contract with a private investigator who had a nasty habit of deciding that a dentist was in violation of some obscure regulation and then going about his investigation with the intent of proving his pre-set theory.
Investigator Camp Morrison, who racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in billings while contracted to the board for more than two decades (he even was provided rent-free office space in the Dentistry Board’s office suite on Canal Street in New Orleans), appeared to have an unlimited expense account.
And why not? He roamed the state under color of law, harassing dentists to self-generate his own fees which were more than paid for by the six-figure fines levied against dentists not in the board’s favor.
Of course, he couldn’t have done all that without the aid of the board’s general counsel, who often served in dual capacity as board counsel and board prosecutor, a violation of legal ethics rules and common sense. Because he only had a duty to his client the board of dentistry to act in its best interest, anyone that he prosecuted was denied due process. The same would be true if a police force handled its own prosecutions without an independent prosecutor; there would be no fundamental perception of fairness.
Attorney Brian Begue was also known to hide behind the cloak of administrative law in denying defendants’ rights afforded under the US Constitution. Because he self-generated his own fees, he had apparently selfish financial motives for seeing dentists prosecuted. In 2012, he was found by the Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to have violated the due process of a Louisiana dentist. https://louisianavoice.com/2015/11/16/dentistry-board-facing-difficult-future-because-of-policies-contracts-with-attorney-private-investigator-are-cancelled/
This investigator and attorney were perhaps given cover by a few complicit board members and staff to carry out their harassment and extortion schemes.
Take Dr. Isaac “Ike” House of Haughton in Bossier Parish. http://www.lsbd.org/boardinfo.htm
In a highly questionable move by the Jindal administration after he testified as a witness in a hearing in which a Louisiana dentist alleged the board participated in criminal conspiracy and unfair trade practices against him by revoking his license to practice in Louisiana.
Was that appointment his reward for his testimony against the dentist?
Dr. Ike, it seems, wears many hats: he’s a dentist, a witness, a board member, and more recently, it has been learned, an analyst for dental insurance claims for a Baton Rouge dental insurance company.
DENTAL INSURANCE CLAIM ANALYSIS PERFORMED BY DENTAL BOARD MEMBER DR. ISAAC “IKE” HOUSE (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)
That last position might appear to some as something of a conflict. As one who performs evaluations of claims for an insurance company serving dentists in his geographic area, he has direct input on their financial reimbursement from the company.
But conflicts of interest have never been a deterrent to the board in the past. The questionable practices of Begue and Morrison is ample evidence of that.
One former Shreveport dentist, Dr. Ryan Haygood, fought the board for several years and finally settled with the board early last month.
Dr. Haygood settled for a fine of $16,500, a fraction of what the board unjustly cost him in its ongoing persecution. Haygood’s attorney told him the facts of life about a board hearing that was cancelled at the last moment after the settlement agreement was reached: the deck was stacked against him and he would lose at the hearing—and it would cost him much more than the $16,500. The board was raising the same issues as before and daring him to appeal. He said he did not have the $300,000 necessary to go through with the appeal, only to lose since the board itself decides all appeals of its decisions.
He said there was no confidentiality clause in the agreement but two of the stipulations of the agreement were that he would take his Internet blog down and that he would sign a “non-disparaging clause.”
LouisianaVoice, however, is not bound by any such restrictions and our blog is still up and we will continue to disparage when deemed appropriate.
Haygood, however, is moving forward with his civil lawsuit against the board which will ultimately be determined in a court of law and not in the Dentistry Board’s hearing room by an attorney who acts as accuser and judge.
Meanwhile, rumors of state and federal investigations persist. http://theadso.org/federal-racketeering-laws-may-finally-bring-the-dental-board-to-its-knees/
It would be most refreshing if investigators could offer a valid explanation of how certain boards’ powers to run roughshod over licensees has been allowed to go unchecked for so long
If there’s corruption, this must be Louisiana (with apologies to the 1969 movie If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium).