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Before Louisiana voters trek to the polls in record low numbers on Oct. 14, there are a few things to consider about State Sen. Neil Riser, one of four candidates for the job of state treasurer, who, besides failing to help landowners being fenced out of their hunting lands, actually took campaign cash from a family member of the one erecting the fences.

Riser, author of that infamous bill amendment in the waning minutes of the 2014 legislative session that would have given State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson an additional $100,000 or so per year in retirement benefits, has received some other interesting contributions as well.

The Louisiana Safety Association of Timbermen gave $2,500 to his senate re-election campaign in March 2014 and only 18 months later filed for BANKRUPTCY on behalf of its self-insurance worker’s compensation fund, leaving quite a few policy holders in the lurch.

Several nursing homes have contributed $2,500 each to his treasurer campaign. The nursing home industry, heavily reliant on state payments on the basis of bed occupancy, consistently benefited from favorable legislation by the Louisiana Legislature over the past decade that discouraged home care for the elderly.

But by far the biggest beneficiary of Riser’s legislative efforts is Vantage Health Plan, Inc., of Monroe which contributed $1,000 in 2015 to his Senate re-election campaign and another $1,000 to his treasurer campaign in March of this year.

Vantage has received six state contracts totaling nearly $242 million during the time Riser has served in the State Senate.

But it was Riser, along with Sens. Mike Walsworth of West Monroe, Rick Gallot of Ruston and Francis Thompson of Delhi, who pushed Senate Bill 216 of 2013 through the Legislature which cleared the way for the state to bypass the necessity of accepting bids for the purchase of the state-owned former Virginia Hotel and an adjoining building and parking lot. That was done expressly for the purpose of allowing Vantage to purchase the property for $881,000 despite there being a second buyer interested in purchasing the property from the state, most likely for a higher price.

By law, if a legislative act is passed, the state may legally skip the public bid process to accommodate a buyer. This was done even though a Monroe couple, who had earlier purchased the nearby Penn Hotel, wanted to buy the Virginia and convert it into a boutique hotel. Thanks to Riser and the other three legislators, they were never given the opportunity.

And Vantage, from all appearances, really got a bargain. The building was constructed in 1925 at a cost of $1.6 million and underwent extensive renovations in 1969 and again in 1984, according to documents provided LouisianaVoice, all of which should have made the property worth considerably more than $881,000. Read the entire story HERE.

Internal documents revealed concerns by Vantage that if the building were to be offered through regular channels (public bids), “developers using federal tax credits could outbid Vantage.”

Another document said, “VHP (Vantage Health Plan) fears that public bidding would allow a developer utilizing various incentive programs to pay an above-market price that VHP would find hard to match.”

Finally, there was a handwritten note which described a meeting on Nov. 1, 2012. Beside the notation that “Sen. Riser supports,” (emphasis added) there was this: “Problem is option of auction—if auction comes there is possibility of tax credits allowing a bidder to out-bid.”

All of which raises the obvious question of why did the Jindal administration turn its back on the potential of a higher sale price through bidding, especially considering the financial condition of the state during his entire term of office? We will probably never know the answer to that.

One might think that that kind of effort on its behalf would be worth more than a couple of thousand in campaign cash to Vantage. Vantage could have at least shown the same gratitude as the relative of the owner of 55,000 of fenced hunting property in Riser’s district.

When landowners in Winn, Caldwell and LaSalle parishes felt they were being fenced out of their hunting rights back in 2013, they did what any citizen might do: they went to their legislator for help–in this case, Riser, who paid the obligatory lip service of expressing concern for landowners Wyndel Gough, Gary Hatten, and Michael Gough but who, in the end, did nothing to assist them.

Instead, as so often happens today in politics, he sold out to the highest bidder.

One the $5,000 contributors to Riser’s campaign is none other than Hunter Farms & Timber, LLC, of Lafayette. An officer in that firm is Billy Busbice, Jr., of Jackson, Wyoming.

William Busbice Sr., one-time chairman of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, and Junior’s father, is a partner in Six C Rentals Limited Partnership of Youngsville, LA. Which purchased and proceeded to fence in some 55,000 acres of prime hunting land a few years back.

The original LouisianaVoice story on that dispute can be read HERE.

All of which only serves to underscore the long-held perception that we in Louisiana, by continually electing the type of public officials who are interested only in the next big deal, get the kind of representation we deserve.

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Ha·be·as cor·pus

[ˌhābēəs ˈkôrpəs]

NOUN

A writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person’s release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention.

Habeas corpus is the legal procedure that keeps the government from holding you indefinitely without showing cause. It’s been a pillar of Western law since the signing of the Magna Carta in England in 1215. The Founders of our nation believed habeas corpus was so essential to preserving liberty, justice, and democracy that they enshrined it in the very first article of the United States Constitution.

 

Ex·tor·tion

[ikˈstôrSH(ə)n]

NOUN

The practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats.

 

RICO

[ˈrēkō]

ABBREVIATION

Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

 

Trudy White has been a judge in the 19th Judicial District of Louisiana since 2009. The district encompasses East Baton Rouge Parish. Before being elected a state district judge, she served for 10 years as a Baton Rouge city judge.

Cleve Dunn, Jr., served as Chairman of Judge Trudy White’s Campaign Committee, according to a campaign finance report filed on March 19, 2014 (scroll down to the second page of White’s campaign finance report by clicking HERE).

Cleve Dunn, Sr., who was paid $250 by Judge White’s campaign on Nov. 14, 2014, for marketing, is the operator of Rehabilitation Home Incarceration (RHI). RHI (see corporate filing record  HERE) has profited by its association with Judge White and is now a named defendant, along with Dunn and East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, III, in a class action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for Louisiana’s Middle District.

REHAB PETITION

RHI is one of several private companies that offer pretrial supervision services for the court but is the only approved on Judge White’s website, the petition says. Judge White also assigns defendants a company called Street Crimes Alternatives for pretrial supervision, but, the petition says, that company is also run by Dunn.

A check by LouisianaVoice, however, revealed two other vendors for home incarceration on Judge White’s web page: Home Bound Monitoring Pretrial and Probation Services and Criminal Justice Service. There was no indication as to when those two were added to Judge White’s WEB PAGE.

Additionally, Judge White paid Frederick Hall and his wife, Gloria Hall, $250 each for campaign support activities on the same date as her campaign’s payment to Dunn. Hall is a former employee of RHI and, with his wife, now owns a bond company to which RHI routinely refers defendants, the lawsuit says.

Lead plaintiffs in the litigation, filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, are Henry Ayo and Kaiasha White (no relation to Judge White).

Ayo was arrested for attempted theft of an air conditioning unit and Kaiasha White for simple and aggravated battery following an argument. Both appeared before Judge White on August 8, 2016.

“Since Judge White’s re-election … in 2014, she has assigned arrestees to supervision by RHI,” the lawsuit says. “White does so without conducting in open court an individualized determination of, or providing an opportunity for arrestees to be heard on, the need for, or the conditions of, RHI supervision.”

The lawsuit said that Judge White appears to make the RHI assignments before the defendants even appear in her court nor does she inquire of arrestees whether or not they can afford to pay bond or RHI’s initial or monthly fees. White, the petition says, usually sets the duration of RHI’s supervision at 90 days or for an indefinite time, “irrespective of the supervisee’s next court date.”

White does not typically impose specific supervision terms for RHI to enforce nor does she order a curfew, house arrest or payment of the initial or monthly fee as a condition of release from the parish prison. RHI takes it upon itself to set all those conditions in an arbitrary manner, the suit says.

RHI demands an initial fee of $525 and arrestees typically learn of this only when they or family members attempt to post bail or at their first meeting with RHI at the prison. Those who cannot immediately pay the initial RHI fee may wait in jail for days or weeks until they can pay despite their having already posted bail.

Through an agreement with RHI, the lawsuit says, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Gautreaux and Parish Prison Warden Dennis Grimes “created and enforce a policy that the prison will not release arrestees from the prison until it receives permission from RHI—permission that comes only after RHI is satisfied with the initial payment made.”

Upon their release, they are required by RHI to sign a contract setting forth RHI’s future fees and conditions of supervision which require the arrestee to pay a monthly fee of $225 to their assigned RHI officer, or “monitor,” during their supervision term. The contract also sets a curfew for supervisees, restricting them from spending the night anywhere other than at their reported residential address.

“RHI monitors and Dunn himself threaten supervisees with re-arrest if they fail to make financial payments or comply with RHI’s costly supervision conditions—without affirmatively inquiring into their ability to pay,” the suit says. “Accordingly, supervisees pay (or attempt to pay) the fee out of fear of re-arrest and bond revocation by scraping together money from friends or family.”

Ayo was told his fees were in part to pay for an ankle monitor even though he was never provided one. When he and his wife were unable to make timely payments, RHI would assess him with late fees.

The federal RICO statute is invoked in the lawsuit because, it says, “Dunn has conducted the affairs of RHI through a pattern of racketeering to achieve the common purpose of unlawfully extorting money from plaintiffs Ayo and White and the proposed class. These racketeering acts are an integral part of RHI’s regular course of business.”

The petition says that Dunn “has committed multiple, related predicate acts of extortion by refusing to authorize the release of plaintiffs and the proposed class from the prison until they paid money towards the RHI initiation fee. Additionally, by unlawfully using the fear of arrest and jail by East Baton Rouge law enforcement or RHI officials, Dunn on numerous occasions extorted from plaintiffs and the proposed class a monthly supervision fee, along with fees for classes or other requirements imposed at the discretion of RHI employees.”

It said Dunn’s use of RHI to extort money from arrestees assigned by Judge White “constitutes a pattern of racketeering activity.”

The lawsuit listed a number of questions for the proposed class:

  • Whether RHI, independent of Judge White, sets terms for an arrestee’s release and the fees for its supervision services;
  • Whether Dunn, RHI, and Gautreaux, in his official capacity, have an agreement that individuals assigned to RHI by Judge White may not be released from the prison until they have paid RHI’s initial fee and RHI notifies the prison of such payment;
  • Whether RHI and Gautreaux, in his official capacity, enforce such agreement against the proposed class without determining whether individuals can afford to pay RHI’s initial fee;
  • Whether Gautreaux has a policy, practice, or custom of detaining arrestees until obtaining RHI’s permission to release them;
  • Whether RHI’s standard contract provides for an initial fee and monthly fees;
  • Whether RHI’s standard contract provides for arrest and jailing for failure to pay its fees;
  • Whether Dunn directs RHI employees to threaten to arrest and jail individuals who do not pay the monthly supervisory fees and other mandated fees to RHI
  • Whether Dunn’s operation of RHI through a pattern of racketeering activity, specifically, extorting money from (arrestees) by unlawfully detaining them in the prison until they pay RHI’s initial fee, then threatening them additional jailing if they fail to pay RHI monthly fees once released, violates the Louisiana and federal RICO acts;
  • Whether Gautreaux and RHI’s practice of detaining individuals because they could not pay RHI’s initial fee violates arrestees’ rights under the 14th Amendment to due process and equal protection;
  • Whether Gautreaux and RHI’s detention of arrestees after they posted bonds constituted an unreasonable seizure in violation of the 14th Amendment, and
  • Whether RHI lacks any legal authority or right to collect fees from arrestees.

 

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The Republican governor of Nevada has done what Bobby Jindal for eight interminable years refused to do and what Gov. John Bel Edwards should have already done.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, saying, “There’s something not right here and it needs to be fixed,” ordered Nevada’s state dental board on Nov.8 to address—and fix—problems of corruption, bullying and extortion rampant in the board’s patient-complaint/resolution process.

A STORY in the Las Vegas Review-Journal sounded eerily familiar to a number of LouisianaVoice stories dating back to March 2014 about abuses perpetrated by the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry through harassment, intimidation, and exorbitant penalties—including ruined careers—for minor infractions and sometimes none at all.

https://louisianavoice.com/2014/03/07/state-board-employs-intimidation-harassment-to-generate-funds-to-pay-for-lucrative-contracts-worth-millions-of-dollars/

https://louisianavoice.com/2016/03/18/like-dental-board-louisiana-board-of-medical-examiners-survives-on-fines-and-incentive-to-punish/

https://louisianavoice.com/2014/03/23/appeal-court-slams-lsdb-tactics-in-reversing-kangaroo-court-license-revocation-board-attorney-rules-on-his-own-objection/

And should Edwards take it upon himself to rein in the rogue dental board, he may well also wish to take a long hard look at a few other boards that have gone off the reservation over the years.

  • Here are just a few that warrant a closer look:
  • The State Board of Cosmetology;
  • The Auctioneers Licensing Board;
  • The State Board of Medical Examiners;
  • The State Board of Examiners of Psychologists

Each of these boards has been the subject of considerable controversy over the manner in which they investigate complaints and assess penalties without giving their targets the benefit of the same due process to which accused criminals are entitled under 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Several dentists and dental hygienists protested a $500,000 increase in the contract for the Nevada dental board’s outside legal counsel, John Hunt and their testimony quickly escalated to shouting a crying by those who said Hunt coerced them to acknowledge wrongdoing and to pay money to the dental board.

Several of them accused Hunt of benefitting from money collected by the board.

As we said earlier, eerily familiar.

https://louisianavoice.com/2015/11/16/dentistry-board-facing-difficult-future-because-of-policies-contracts-with-attorney-private-investigator-are-cancelled/

At least in Nevada, complaints by victims of the dental board led to action.

A legislative audit of the board concluded that the board imposed excessive penalties on those it was investigating and also took issue with the board’s handling of Hunt’s contract. The board’s handling of patient complaints, it said, left targets of investigations with the belief that they either had to accept a settlement agreement or risk steeper punishment if found guilty in a final board hearing.

“That’s where the allegation of extortion comes in,” State Assemblyman Glenn Trowbridge, a member of the subcommittee that conducted the audit, said in June. “Either pay me now or we’ll look into it deeper and you’ll pay me more.”

Again…eerily familiar.

https://louisianavoice.com/2016/07/18/case-of-slidell-dentist-illustrates-unbridled-power-of-dentistry-board-to-destroy-careers-for-sake-of-money/

Sandoval appoints the members of the dental board. He said the time has come for the 11-member board to address the problem. Citing his experience with other state boards during his political career, he said, “I’ve never seen …people as upset as they are.”

The board, following Sandoval’s scolding, postponed action on Hunt’s contract amendment.

1980 U.S. Supreme Court specifically addressed the issue of excessive penalties in the case of U.S. Secretary of Labor v. Jerrico, Inc.

In that case, the Supreme Court reduced a $103,000 penalty to $18,000 in that the higher penalty constituted an unconstitutional risk of bringing “impermissible factors into the prosecutorial decision.”

In an earlier, even more pointed decision, the Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that “board members’ pecuniary interest disqualified them from passing on issues.”

In citing an Alabama case in which the Board of Optometry revoked the licenses of all optometrists employed by corporations such as Lee Optical, the court said, “Because the Board of Optometry was composed solely of optometrists in private practice for their own account, the District Court concluded that success in the board’s efforts would possibly (contribute) to the personal benefit of members of the board, sufficiently so that in the opinion of the District Court, the Board was disqualified from hearing the charges filed against the appellees.

“It is sufficiently clear from our cases,” the court continued, “that those with substantial pecuniary interest in legal proceedings should not adjudicate these disputes.”

As simple to understand as that ruling is, one must wonder why, 43 years later, the Louisiana Board of Dentistry and other licensing boards in the State of Louisiana are still allowed to operate their own respective fiefdoms with carte blanche.

Are their legal counsels not able to read and understand the law?

Is there not a single board member among them with the decency to say, “This isn’t right”?

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There are those who will label this post as sour grapes.

That’s okay. You can call it Tinker Bell, Rambo or anything you choose. I don’t care because it won’t change the fact that the Louisiana Supreme Court is dominated by gutless hypocrites.

There’s a guy in New Orleans who will agree with me even if no one else does.

His name is Ashton R. O’Dwyer, Jr. and he is an attorney. Or at least he was.

You see, like me, he sounded off to and about the wrong people—judges, to be precise—but unlike me, he was in a vulnerable position in that he was a partner at the prestigious New Orleans law firm Lemle & Kelleher. As such, anything he said about the judiciary could be—and was—met with instant retaliation.

O’Dwyer’s sin was that he had the idea to file a class action lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over its lack of adequate preparedness for Hurricane Katrina. For good measure, in case it should be determined that the Corps was immune from litigation, he also named the State of Louisiana as a defendant for its pitiful oversight of the various politically inept and corrupt levee boards.

But other attorneys who were politically connected to the presiding judge wanted to be the plaintiff attorney. The judge eventually disqualified O’Dwyer and the rival attorney filed his suit. The only problem is the other attorney also represented the state so he could not, because of the obvious conflict of interests, file against the state.

It was little consolation to O’Dwyer that the Corps of Engineers was, as feared, determined to be immune from being sued which left the other attorney with no case. O’Dwyer was furious and went slightly ballistic.

He was eventually terminated by Lemle & Kelleher and things escalated quickly. Jailed on a questionable charge of making threats, he was held for mental evaluation. It was his second stint in jail. The first came because he refused to leave his St. Charles Avenue home during Katrina—even though a network news crew was allowed to remain in a house next door during the storm.

The courts were far from finished teaching him a lesson. Subjected to monitoring of his emails for years, suspended from the practice of law after being fired, he was later disbarred altogether. http://www.tulanelink.com/stories/o’dwyer_11a.htm

Today, O’Dwyer is not only fired, suspended and disbarred, but also bankrupt—all because he refused to hold his tongue. And today, he still won’t shut up.

http://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2010/12/disbarred_attorney_not_as_craz.html

After all, what else can they do to him?

Fast forward to November 7, 2016.

Among the writ applications denied by the Louisiana Supreme Court was Case No. 2016-C -1263 (TOM ASWELL v. THE DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATION, OF THE STATE OF LOUISIANA AND KRISTY NICHOLS, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS THE COMMISSIONER OF ADMINISTRATION). http://www.lasc.org/news_releases/2016/2016-065.asp

I filed my writ after the First Circuit Court of Appeal in an equally cowardly act, struck down the penalties against Nichols while acknowledging that the state was negligent in complying to our public records request in a timely manner.

As a refresher, here’s what happened. With the Division of Administration under Nichols already dragging its feet with several pending requests we had submitted, we decided to conduct a test to see if we were being targeted via slow compliance.

In October 2014, we submitted a detailed request for information pertaining to a complicated third party administrator contract between the Office of Group Benefits and a California bill processing firm. On the same day, we had a friendly legislator (who asked not to be named) submit an identical request through the House Legislative Services Office.

The House member received the requested information the very next day. Again, that was in October 2014. In January 2015, I still had not received the documents so I filed suit. Kristy Nichols then had a CD containing the information delivered to my attorney, J. Arthur Smith, III, the day after the suit was filed.

By our calculations, with state law providing penalties of $100 per day for failure to comply to the state’s public records law (remember: Bobby Jindal was touting the state for its “gold standard of transparency), the Division of Administration owed us about $40,000, including that request as well as others that were still outstanding.

District Court Judge Mike Caldwell, in his infinite wisdom, awarded us something on the order of $1200 and Kristy appealed. The First Circuit gutted even that award and we applied for writs to the Supreme Court.

Among those on the Louisiana Supreme Court who would have granted my writ were Jeannette Knoll of the Third District, Jeff Hughes of the Fifth District and John Weimer of the Sixth District. For that, I thank them.

The brain-dead justices who declined to do the right thing, who distorted the state’s public records law to their own satisfaction and who showed they possess no moral compass insofar as the public’s right to know is concerned were Chief Justice Bernette Johnson of the Seventh District, Greg Guidry of the First District, Scott Crichton of the Second District, and Marcus Clark of the Fourth District. For that, I thumb my nose at them.

Let’s recap: I’m not an attorney, I’m retired, and for the moment, the First Amendment, which guarantees my freedom of speech, is still firmly intact. Moreover, since Supreme Court justices are elected, that makes them politicians first, and judges second, which means their title of justices takes on about as much significance as a justice of the peace as far as I’m concerned. They are no more or any less human than anyone else who toils at an occupation. They are mortals endowed with no greater wisdom than my grandfather who had a sixth-grade education. (In fact, truth be known, he was probably light years ahead of most lawyers in terms of moral wisdom.)

In short, the Supreme Court jusrtices can’t do a damned thing to me for calling them imbecilic morons.

Now, lest you think this diatribe is about me, be assured it most definitely is not. It also is not about LouisianaVoice. Nor is it about $1200 in penalties—or even $40,000. The $1200 awarded by Judge Caldwell will neither make me nor break me.

This boneheaded decision, from district court all the way up to the Supreme Court’s decision to deny writs, is about something much larger than me, LouisianaVoice or $1200.

This is about the public’s right to request—and obtain—information about what its government is doing, how it is spending the taxpayers’ dollars, and how its government is meeting—or failing to meet—its responsibility to the public it is supposed to be serving. This rant also raises the obvious question: what purpose do laws serve if they are not enforced? Indeed, what use are judges (other than to look wise when photographed in their robes for their official portraits—at taxpayer expense, of course) when they selectively ignore the law?

With the manner in which our litigation was mangled by the judiciary, governmental agencies and those who run them—from the governor down to the mayors of Shongaloo and Paincourtville—may now take their cue from Case No. 2016-C -1263 (TOM ASWELL v. THE DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATION, OF THE STATE OF LOUISIANA AND KRISTY NICHOLS, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS THE COMMISSIONER OF ADMINISTRATION) and provide as much—or as little—as they choose in the way of public records without fear of financial penalties.

The only recourse we have at this point is to find another friendly legislator to write—and a friendly governor to support—new legislation tightening and re-defining the public records laws and the public’s right to know what its elected and appointed officials are doing in the name of representation of constituents.

We have the friendly governor, we believe, as evidenced by John Bel Edwards’s office prompt response to the public records requests we have submitted to him and to the Division of Administration.

So now, like Diogenes, we are seeking an honest man in the form of a legislator who will take on a difficult, if not impossible task.

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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.

IMAG2140

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).

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