[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 April 27, 2015 17:31 GMT

PORT LABOR-TRUCKERS

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Truck drivers who haul goods from the nation's busiest port complex in Southern California have walked off the job in a dispute over their wages and employee status.

Today's strike at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach comes after a weekend vote from the Teamsters, who say "several hundred" drivers from four companies are striking.

Some 16,000 truckers haul cargo, and the strike isn't expected to shut down all business at the ports.

The drivers are contractors for the trucking companies, but they're fighting to become company employees, saying it would mean better wages and workplace protections.

FEDERAL RESERVE

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Most economists say a still-subpar economy and low inflation will keep interest rates at record lows at least until September.

On Wednesday, the Fed could clarify its plans after ending its latest policy meeting. But analysts caution against expecting any specific guidance on the Fed's timetable for a rate hike.

Too many uncertainties still surround the U.S. economy and Fed's policymakers may want to leave themselves maneuvering room until their view of the economy's health becomes clearer.

For 6 1/2 years, the Federal Reserve has held its key interest rate near zero.

JAPAN-RATINGS DOWNGRADE

Fitch downgrades Japan citing economic concerns

(UNDATED) -- Fitch Ratings is lowering Japan's credit rating as the country wrestles with staggering debt.

Fitch says the government did not include sufficient measures in its budget to replace a deferred tax increase this fiscal year, which ends next March.

Japan's debt is the largest among developed nations and more than twice the size of the economy.

The ratings agency downgraded Japan's long-term foreign and local currency issuer default ratings to "A" from "A+." It also lowered its senior unsecured foreign and local currency bonds ratings to "A" from "A+."

Fitch says that though Japan cut corporate tax rates in the current fiscal year, it wants to cut them again in the next year. It says those factors increased the ratings agency's uncertainty over Japan's political commitment to consolidation.

CHIPOTLE-GMO

NEW YORK (AP) -- Chipotle says it has completed phasing out genetically modified ingredients from its food.

The Denver-based chain had already been using mostly non-GMO ingredients, but said in late 2013 it was working on transitioning to a tortilla that did not use them.

Most of the country's corn and soybean crop is genetically modified to have certain traits like resistance to plant diseases.

The head of the Food and Drug Administration's food safety center has said the agency found no basis that GMOs pose any different safety concerns than foods developed by traditional plant breeding.

Chipotle Co-CEO Steve Ells has said the company felt it was best not to use GMOs given the "lack of consensus" about their effects.

EARNS-SUN BANCORP

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) -- Sun Bancorp Inc. (SNBC) is reporting first-quarter net income of $2.8 million, after reporting a loss in the same period a year earlier.

The Mount Laurel, New Jersey-based bank said today it had earnings of 15 cents per share.

The holding company for Sun National Bank posted revenue of $28.3 million in the period.

Sun Bancorp shares have climbed 3.5 percent since the beginning of the year.

RESTAURANT BRANDS-RESULTS

NEW YORK (AP) -- Restaurant Brands International Inc. is reporting adjusted earnings that beat analysts' expectations for the first-quarter as sales at its Burger King and Tim Hortons operations showed healthy growth. The Canadian company reports a loss of $8.1 million, or 4 cents per share. But it had earnings of 18 cents per share after adjusting for certain costs.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected profit of 15 cents per share.

Revenue rose slightly to $932 million. Analysts polled by FactSet expected $944.7 million.

DISCOVER-APPLE PAY

NEW YORK (AP) -- Discover credit cardholders in the U.S. are getting their Apple Pay.

After months of complaints from customers, Discover Financial Services announced today that it has reached an agreement with Apple Inc. that will let its cardholders make payments in participating stores through Apple Pay by using an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus or Apple Watch.

With Apple Pay, credit card numbers are not stored on the device or on Apple servers. A unique device account number is assigned and each transaction is authorized with a one-time unique security code.

Discover customers will also be able to use Apple Pay with iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 when paying for goods and services within apps starting in the fall.

advertisement