[an error occurred while processing this directive]

I-Team Special Report: Hiring Felons

Updated: Friday, May 23, 2014 |
I-Team Special Report: Hiring Felons story image
(NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The Newschannel 3 I-Team is shining a light on an alarming issue.

Within the last decade, Michigan lawmakers passed very strict rules protecting some of our most vulnerable people--homebound patients who are sick or elderly.

The laws we're talking about prevent felons from immediately entering the workforce into the home health care field after they've finished doing time in prison.

Thursday, the I-Team presents the results of an investigation that is now prompting a state investigation.

Alliance Home Health Services, based on Miller Road in Kalamazoo, is a company that sends care providers out to the homes of homebound patients.

The I-Team investigation corroborated what multiple sources have told us for months--that a woman currently working for the home health care company is a felony habitual offender.

From Michigan State Police records, the rap sheet on the woman:

  • Felony attempted breaking and entering
  • Felony larceny
  • Felony stealing
  • Felony credit card theft
  • Felony prison escape

Then, we heard from Jennifer Fleeman, her past supervisor at Alliance Home Health Services.

"My concern was for her working with social security numbers," she said.

Fleeman says Medicare numbers, which in many cases are social security numbers, were readily available to all employees at the company.

She says all the workers--many of them telemarketers--had to collect the information to ensure the patient would qualify for Medicare homebound medical service.

"I still miss it, being able to work with so many elderly people and make them so happy," Fleeman said.

After she left the company in May 2013, Fleeman says the woman in question got promoted and actually took Fleeman's job as a supervisor.

We wanted to find out if the woman was still working at Alliance with direct access to patient information, so we went to the address we confirmed from multiple sources as the company's marketing headquarters.

And we ended up right at the woman's door--which was promptly slammed in our face.

She didn't tell us anything about her apparent current employment with Alliance, but through state documents we did find a reason why she might have locked the door on the I-Team.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, we found that she was disqualified from working in home health care in 2012, but somehow continued working even as the people inside the company promised state regulators last year that she was "not an employee anymore."

In this case, state documents show that she has to wait until 2019 to work at a home health agency.

By law, most felons have to wait 10 years after they're out of the justice system to get in the field--some have to wait 15 years if they've done time for things like criminal sexual conduct and abuse.

Those with qualifying misdemeanor convictions even have to sit out five years.

So we turned to the man who created and owned Alliance Home Health Services from 2006 up until February 2014, Mark Cataldo.

We walked straight into his office at Alliance, and he escorted us out of the building, then waited to hit the road in his vehicle.

After deciding he didn't want to drive away, he got out of his car and walked back inside.

Before he left us, we asked point blank if he had a person with a felony background handling information.

He closed the door on us.

But it seems Cataldo shut the door on us at about the same time regulators at the State Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs opened one for us, to find out what we know about the company.

After we told LARA Director for Health Facilities Larry Horvath what we knew, he promised he would, "determine whether that allegation has substantial information that shows that the provider is willfully and knowingly violating the law."

Horvath says there's punishment in the law for executives at home health agencies that don't follow laws in the public health code.

"A home health agency must stay compliant with state law, so if we found that they are in violation of this part of the act which requires background checks and they and knowingly and willingly violate them--part of this--and we found them in noncompliance with this, we could cite them," Horvath said. "That would risk their federal certification and participation in medicare."

Horvath did this interview with us last week.

Since then, state regulators tell Newschannel 3 that they've investigated the allegations to which we alerted them, and they've forwarded the results of their investigation on for possible prosecution and action.

Carole Engle, Director of Michigan's Bureau of Health Care Services wrote in an email to Newschannel 3:

"The bureau takes these allegations very seriously and after reviewing the information provided, we have referred this matter to the state Attorney General for a more formal investigation and potential enforcement action. We thank the WWMT I-Team for sharing their information with us."

We're told that Alliance has at least 150 patients in multiple counties across West Michigan.

Records show Alliance's former owner, Cataldo, transferred the company in February to one of the company's managers, Patrick Dizon.

This week, we tried contacting Cataldo again, and also tried to contact Dizon.

Neither responded to requests for comment.

In addition to this investigation, there is another home health care company in West Michigan named Alliance.

It's called Alliance Home Health Care Services Inc. and it's based in Holland.

We're not talking about that company at all; this investigation centered around Alliance Home Health Services, which is based in Kalamazoo.
comments powered by Disqus
advertisement

What do you want to see?

If you have a story idea for the I-Team, you can contact us using the form below or by calling 269-388-4612.
Please re-enter the code shown in the image below.

Business News

Last Update on October 22, 2014 17:29 GMT

CONSUMER PRICES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer prices edged up slightly in September, with the overall increase held back by a third straight monthly decline in gasoline prices. The tiny gain was the latest evidence that inflation remains dormant.

The Labor Department says consumer prices rose 0.1 percent in September after having falling 0.2 percent in August. Core prices, which exclude volatile food and energy, also rose 0.1 percent after no gain in August.

Over the past 12 months, overall prices are up 1.7 percent and core prices are up a similar 1.7 percent. Both increases are well below the 2 percent target for inflation set by the Federal Reserve. The absence of inflationary pressures has allowed the central bank to keep interest rates at record lows to boost the economy.

SOCIAL SECURITY-COLA

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government says millions of older Americans who rely on federal benefits will get a 1.7 percent increase in their monthly payments next year.

It's the third year in a row the increase will be less than 2 percent.

The annual cost-of-living adjustment affects payments for more than 70 million Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees.

The government announced the increase Wednesday, when it released the latest measure of consumer prices. By law, the increase is based on inflation, which is well below historical averages so far this year.

Congress enacted automatic increases for Social Security beneficiaries in 1975. Until recently, the increases were rarely less than 2 percent.

AIR BAG RECALL

DETROIT (AP) -- The U.S. government is adding more than 3 million vehicles to a rare warning about faulty air bags that have the potential to kill or injure drivers or passengers in a crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Wednesday put out a new list of vehicles, increasing the number from 4.7 million to 7.8 million. The agency urged people to get their cars repaired if they're being recalled, especially in Florida and along the Gulf Coast.

The air bag inflators made by parts supplier Takata can rupture, causing metal fragments to fly out when the bags are inflated. Safety advocates say at least four people have died from the problem.

The warning covers many models from BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota.

EBOLA MONITORING

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal health officials are significantly expanding the breadth of vigilance for Ebola, saying that all travelers who come into the U.S. from Ebola-stricken West African nations will now be monitored for symptoms of illness for 21 days.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the program will begin Monday and cover visitors as well as aid workers, journalists and other Americans returning from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea.

The program will start in six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Georgia.

CDC Director Tom Frieden says state and local health officials will check daily for fever or other Ebola symptoms.

Passengers will get kits to help them track their temperature and will be told to inform health officials daily of their status.

J&J-EBOLA VACCINE

J&J to spend up to $200M on Ebola vaccine program

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) -- Johnson & Johnson will start safety testing in early January on a vaccine combination that could protect people from a strain of the deadly Ebola virus.

The health care products maker says it has committed up to $200 million to speed up and expand production of a vaccine program being developed by its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies.

J&J is developing the vaccine with the Danish biotech company Bavarian Nordic. It involves a regimen in which two vaccines are delivered two months apart. The combination provided complete protection in animals against a virus strain similar to the one causing the current outbreak in West Africa that has killed thousands of people.

The New Brunswick, New Jersey, company says it will also determine whether its vaccine protects against the version causing the outbreak.

MORTGAGE RISK RULES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal regulators are proceeding with new rules that ease guidelines for banks selling mortgage securities and could mean fewer borrowers will need to make hefty down payments.

The Securities and Exchange Commission voted 3-2 Wednesday to adopt the rules, which six federal agencies have been working on since 2011. Three other agencies adopted the rules Tuesday, and the Federal Reserve has scheduled a vote for Wednesday afternoon.

The rules govern the amount of risk banks must take on when they package and sell mortgage securities in a multitrillion-dollar market. In the final rules, the regulators have dropped a key requirement: a 20-percent down payment from the borrower if a bank didn't hold at least 5 percent of the mortgage securities tied to those loans on its books.

MINI-OVERSTATED GAS MILEAGE

DETROIT (AP) -- The U.S. government has told BMW to reduce the gas mileage estimates on window stickers of four Mini Cooper models.

Testing by the Environmental Protection Agency lab in Ann Arbor, Michigan, discovered the overstated mileage.

The vehicles affected are the 2014 Mini Cooper three-door and Mini Cooper three-door S models with manual and automatic transmissions. BMW must cut the highway mileage by one-to-four miles per gallon depending on the model. Estimates for city driving and combined city and highway fuel economy also must be reduced.

The EPA says it audited the Mini gas mileage and came up with lower values than BMW, which makes the cars. It's the fourth time in the past two years that the EPA has found discrepancies in the gas mileage estimates provided by an automaker.

PEW-ONLINE HARASSMENT

NEW YORK (AP) -- A new study confirms what many Internet users know all too well: Harassment is a common part of online life.

The report by the Pew Research Center found that nearly three-quarters of American adults who use the Internet have witnessed online harassment. Forty percent have experienced it themselves.

The types of harassment Pew asked about range from name-calling to physical threats, sexual harassment and stalking. Half of those who were harassed said they didn't know the person who had most recently attacked them.

Young adults -- people 18 to 29 -- were the most likely age group to see and undergo online harassment.

The survey was conducted between May 30 and June 30 among 3,217 respondents.

advertisement