Monday, April 13, 2009

Todd Cruse Involved In Shady Business While In Sundquist Administration

Todd Cruse is married to Lesa Hensley.  Lesa is daughter of lobbyist Tom Hensley "The Golden Goose" in Tennessee politics.  

NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Friends in High Places
E-Mail May Provide Valuable Clues in Contracts Investigation
(Story created: 10/31/03)

First, there were raids. More recently, there's been a parade of witnesses before a federal grand jury investigating state contracts. Now, thousands of e-mails could provide important clues about how the Sundquist administration handled those contracts.

Millions of people communicate every day by e-mail.

So when investigators began investigating contracts handed out by the administration of former Gov. Don Sundquist, they quickly issued a federal grand jury subpoena for thousands of e-mail messages. Included was a demand for messages to and from Sundquist and other top officials.

The probe was prompted by our Friends in High Places investigation

"People put things in e-mails never expecting that they are going to have to explain them," says retired FBI agent Ben Purser.

A sampling of the e-mails provided to the grand jury -- and obtained by NewsChannel 5 -- deal with a request for proposals for computer services. RFPs, as they are called, are supposed to be judged by an impartial selection panel.

"What you are holding in your hands could very well be evidence," Purser tells NewsChannel 5's chief investigative reporter Phil Williams.

For example, there's an August 2002 e-mail from Sundquist's chief administrative officer Todd Cruse.

"When do you anticipate putting together the selection panel," Cruse asks the state's head of information resources. "I have an interest in who we choose."

Cruse would later become a lobbyist for SCB Computer Technology, one of the state's big computer contractors and a bidder for the job.

"Perhaps, and I emphasize perhaps, there could be some influence there," Purser observes.

Cruse, however, tells NewsChannel 5 he was just expressing a naive curiosity about how the process worked.

But that's not how it was taken at the time.

"Honoring his request is simply out of the question," wrote Richard Rognehaugh, then the state's new head of information resources, to Finance Commissioner Warren Neel.

Neel responded, "My guide is and remains.. keep the process clean and above reproach.

That same process was used to hand out hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts. Investigators will want to know if there were efforts to stack other selection panels -- and if there were other department heads who were more willing to go along with those efforts.

Cruse's e-mails also hint at pressure from powerful Senate chairman Jerry Cooper relating to a homeland security project.

"I would like to be able to tell Senator Cooper when he calls, again, that I am getting a response out to her by the end of the day," the Sundquist administration official wrote.

The "her" was Cooper's wife, who was lobbyist for a company that wanted in on talks about the contract.

Purser says, "The e-mails that you've shown me would demonstrate the amount of political influence that is being used in a process that is supposed to be void of political influence."

Those e-mails are just a tiny fraction of what the state's computer experts are recovering from computer backups. The grand jury subpoena demands messages from the highest levels of the Sundquist administration.

The subpoena for e-mail records was issued last December. But the state's computer experts say restoring backups has been such a massive chore that they still aren't finished with the job.

"Some of the folks did not appear to be habitual e-mail senders or receivers," Rognehaugh tells Phil Williams.

He says how much evidence that's available for the federal grand jury will depend upon the e-mail habits of the Sundquist administration officials now under scrutiny.

"The federal grand jury in any public corruption investigation is following a paper trail," Purser adds.

In this case, it's not paper -- but a trail of bits and bytes that some probably never realized they were leaving.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Smile Starters Complaint #101

I have read the article on the Smile Starters investigation. I wanted to share a story about my visit with the Winston-Salem, NC Smile Starters in 2001. I went in to have my teeth cleaned and see about having my wisdom teeth cut out. When I went in the I never had a problem with my teeth, not a spot on them. They took an x-ray and told me I had 8 cavities in all my mollars. When I asked about why my teeth didn't hurt or have any spots on them, they told my I had a rare tooth decay disorder that caused my teeth to rotten from the inside out. I was 17 so my mom didn't go with me and I didn't know I could tell them no they can't prefrom the fillings. So i let them start drilling my teeth, they gave my 10 shots in my mouth and I felt EVERYTHING!!! When I told the dentist this she told me well we have already given you too much medicine you are just gonna have to be a big girl. Then I was flinching and moving while she was drilling and her exact words to me were : "You better sit still or I'm going to cut your mouth all up. I can't stop drilling fast enough to keep from cutting you." They couldn't cut my wisdom teeth out that day so hey scheduled me for 2 days later. I went in that day and they broke my jaw removing my teeth! They claim that I had roots that are 1.5 cm longer than normal and they curved backwards and attached themselve to my jaw bone. On top of that they give my 800mg IBuprofen to manage my pain.This was the worst experience of my life. Since then I have had nothing but problems out of my back teeth. I was someone that use to pride myself on my teeth. Now I have these large black fillings in my mouth that I hate. I hope these so called dentist are not allowed to put their hands on anymore children.!!!
Heather K

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Who Owns Pueblo, Colorado

Emails question who owns Pueblo, Colorado.


I had emailed you a few weeks back about the DeRoses and life here in Pueblo, Colorado. When driving to work each day I can't help but notice a very large and fancy building being constructed in a new business park in Pueblo. I was wondering what type of business it might be. Yesterday I received a flier in the mail for "Park West Dental". Owners: Dr. John Millea and Dr. Juliann Padula Millea. "General Dentistry for Youth". "Most insurances accepted including MEDICAID...." This new office is about a quarter mile away from the new YMCA in Pueblo which is being heavily funded by donations from the DeRoses.
A few observations...
1. Again, I guess I'm surprised how much money there is to be made practicing pediatric dentistry.. Am also amazed that with such an expensive and elaborate building that one would be purposely trying to attract Medicaid patients. Most physicians in town cringe at the thought of a Medicaid based practice as you would go broke in a short amount of time.
2. Is reimbursement for Medicaid dental services still too high? I don't think the original intent of the program was for dentists to get rich off it.
3. How much do you want to bet the financing for this pair of young dentists (each looks to be in their early thirties) came from the DeRoses?.. I have a hard time believing that they are financing the building themselves. There are too many coincidences.
Of course, none of this is illegal. It just raises a question in my mind about the potential for ongoing fraud given the associations noted---i.e. Padula-DeRose-child's dentistry-close proximity to the "DeRose" YMCA building, etc...


So I sent out an email asking about this and here is what I was told:

Yes the dental clinic is owned by Dr. padula which is Dr. Eddie DeRose's brother in law so I am guessing it is Dr. Padula daughter and son in law. Dr. John Millea use to work at....guess what....DeRose Dentistry or now known as Small Smiles of Pueblo on Liberty lane. The YMCA is being funded and built by Dr. Eddie DeRose. The clan down there involves Dr. Eddie DeRose, Dr. Adolph Padula(bro-inlaw), Dr. John Parrish(bro-inlaw). Both Padula and Parrish were part owners of Small Smiles before FORBA bought them out and I am pretty sure the non compete clause included them so hence....they use their kids names. Probably gonna start up new clinics under their names to run FORBA out of town.


Saturday, April 04, 2009

DeRose Involved In Health Club?

I found this post the other day on a website and was wondering if anyone has anymore information on this?

Dan DeRose is Mike DeRose's brother, and he was the subject of Medicare fraud charge in the mid-90s when he owned a local health club. The results of the lawsuit against him were never made public.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Pay for Preformance

As ridiculous as this concept is, I hope FORBA execs are first inline.