By: Debbie Hagan
Last week, News 4 in San Antonio, Texas ran a story about how the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners farms out it’s duties to the local police station instead of investigating themselves. Thanks to a tipster, who says the dental board isn’t the least bit interested in making any changes, I’m publishing the story here, not to critique the story but to comment on the luncy of the content.
Dental board refers out criminal investigations
by APRIL MOLINA
March 14, 2017
“The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners receives dozens of complaints each year; among them, drug diversion and addiction, practicing dentistry without a license and dentists performing unnecessary work.”
Uh, I would say it’s more like hundreds of complaints; maybe even thousands.
"It is I think appropriate that the dental board evaluate all complaints and if they find wrongdoing, either civil or criminal, then it's incumbent upon our dental agency, our dental board to take action," said Texas State Senator Charles Schwertner.”
The citizens of Texas think the board should as well, but over the last several years, I think they have seen the dental board take less and less action. In fact I would say the TSBDE is the least effective of all dental boards, well maybe other than California.
“The dental board has always investigated the administrative side of complaints and for more than a decade board investigators have also had the ability to conduct criminal investigations, often handing cases over to the local district attorneys for prosecution.”
"In hopes of protecting my community and protecting the citizens of Texas I passed this bill that gave them the capacity to have licensed peace officers," said State Senator Jose Menendez.
Menendez's 2003 law enabled the dental board to hire experienced dental investigators with the authority to investigate criminal cases without delay.”
Apparently the TSBDE were not doing their job in 2003 either! Over 14 very long years later, the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners have had the full force for the law behind them to investigate criminal acts of dentists? WOW! Who knew, right? I bet Lisa Jones, the Director of Investigations, should, could and would put the handcuffs on the criminals.
“In late 2016, a whistleblower tipped off the News 4 Trouble Shooters that a decision was made to re-direct criminal investigations at the end of 2015.”
“Re-direct” to where? To be “re-directed” they have to have once been “directed” to someone or someplace, right?
“3 months after Executive Director, Kelly Parker, took over, the director of investigations sent out this email to staff: "Per Kelly, as of today, we will no longer investigate the criminal aspects of a complaint. We will not be filing cases directly with the D.A. any longer. If you have a case with a criminal element, work the administrative side of it and refer the criminal elements to a local police department with jurisdiction."
Say what!! 3 months in and she took this approach? Who hired this Kelly Parker, anyway? And who is she to decide? Clearly, the ED has way too much power. Who’s directing the Director?
At a hearing of the Committee on Public Health in 2012 Lisa Jones, Director of Enforcement for the TSBDE stated she had been with the board for 10 years and Director of Enforcement for over 7. At the hearing Jones stated there had been 153 case of fraud reported and only 5 dentists in 5 years had their licenses revoked or voluntarily surrendered. When asked about cases turned over the local District Attorney’s Jones stated in the last 2 years they had turned over 200 cases and only 5 had some sort of conviction. Lisa Jones is still the Director of Investigations.
The Executive Director at the time was Glenn Parker, who couldn’t attend, but sent a letter. Committee Chair Lois Kolkhorst read from a letter sent in by Glenn Parker, where he made it clear local District Attorneys were reluctant to prosecute these cases, since murders and such took precedence. So, are you telling me, Executive Director of the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners, Kelly Parker, thinks sending a file over to the local cop’s desk would get better results!
Kelly, hon, you have a Director of Investigations, right there in your office. I bet you see her at least one or two times a week. She gets paid to “investigate”. Yet you believe you and your office staff are just too busy with ….uh…work….uh… so important that the local police station should do it! I can’t even get my head around that!
Where are you going to “re-direct” the investigations next, the local dog catcher’s desk?
“Parker would not agree to an interview, but sent us this statement: "Other agencies exist for the purpose of pursuing the criminal violation and it would be wasteful and redundant for the dental board to do so, too."
Well, Good God Almighty! Taxpayers wouldn’t want any ‘waste”! (sarcasm)
Ms. Parker, for years, those same agencies along with the state legislators—and the public— have been asking why your agency has done little to nothing to take care of dental related crimes and violations. Earn that $92,000 a year, darlin’! Now, there’s some “waste” for you to ponder.
“According to the Dental Practice Act, "the board shall aid in the enforcement of state law regulating the practice of dentistry," and the board's position is that they do assist and cooperate with law enforcement.
Menendez said, "helping" with investigations was not the intent of the law.
"Law enforcement already has plenty on their hands," Menendez said. "This is your duty to examine complaints and examine what's happening to keep the dental practice a safe practice."
I’ve been saying the exact same thing for 10 years! Over the course of that time I’ve seen it go from bad to worse.
“Over the course of 2016, there were multiple Sunset Commission meetings where legislators questioned past action by the dental board and more specifically inaction.
In preparation for these upcoming meetings, Parker developed new protocols to improve the board's "days to case resolution" that included investigation timelines and the creation of attorney teams to support the investigators.
Emails sent during this time prompted questions about whether criminal cases were shut down before they were completed and whether this would compromise public safety.”
"This is very disconcerting," Menendez said. "This is not a partisan issue, this is a people issue, this is a patient issue."
“The Trouble Shooters filed multiple open records requests, and while many of them were answered, the dozen or so leading up to the new directive were blacked out.”
Now, I wonder why they were “blacked out”? Kelly, that implies you knew this wasn’t going to set well.
“After being alerted to the concerns by News 4, Senator Menendez said he would follow up, and he did, requesting information about how criminal cases were being handled.
Unredacted versions of the emails sent to his office reveal this conversation:
The Director of Investigations writing, "I'm a little flabbergasted that we are even suggesting not filing criminal charges on an on view felony offense. The investigative division is a law enforcement agency with the duties and responsibilities to act on an on view criminal violation the same as any other law enforcement agency."
In Parker's response, she wrote, "I encourage cooperation with other agencies, but after our order, we have no reason to keep an open case. The investigators can send it to the local PD. If they don't want it, it's not our problem."
Whoa!! “Local Police Department!” “Not our problem!” Over the years I’ve heard those representing the TSBDE speak of all sorts of dental issues that are not their problem. Wonder when anything will be their problem?
"The agency is responsible and all management needs to be held responsible as far as why cases, if cases have been dropped, we need to know why, we need them to be picked up, reopened and they need to be examined," Menendez said.
Parker has neither confirmed nor denied cutting criminal investigations short, but the number of open investigations has changed.”
Oh, I bet the number has changed, drastically!
“According to a September of 2016 enforcement update, the number of complaints received as of September of 2015, was 905 (538 were still under investigation).
The number of complaints received as of 2016 was 883.
Some had been forwarded to the dental division, others were in legal, but there were 0 under investigation.”
ZERO being investigated!! So, Texas is paying Lisa Jones, over $76k a year to do what exactly?
"I'd like to know more about it and understand the reasoning behind it, but the bottom line though is that any sort of misconduct, criminal misconduct needs to be investigated," Schwertner said.
There is some concern that cases turned over to local law enforcement may fall through the cracks, never making it to local district attorneys.”
“Fall through the cracks”, that’s an understatement! Fall into the wastebasket would be more like it!
I would not be shocked to learn, many end up there long before they are referred to the local police department!
Could the reason be so many board members might be the subject of some of these “investigations”. Hey, it’s a fair question!
“In a letter written by General Counsel for the board, it states they will monitor cases referred to local law enforcement and file cases directly with the DA if local authorities fail to do so.”
ROTFL! Yeah, sure they will!!
If you want to search disciplinary actions against a dentist, you can do so on the TSBDE website.(End)
The Mission of the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners is to protect the public health and safety and promote high quality and safe dental care by providing enforcement, licensing, peer assistance, and related information services to licensees and their patients.
Page 59 of the report describes the Investigative/Compliance Division-Lisa Jones, Division Director:
“The Investigations Division is charged with investigating all jurisdictional complains filed with the agency, assisting the Legal Division in the prosecution of the complaints through informal or formal disciplinary means as provided by applicable statutes, pursuing compliance with disciplinary actions and conditions as set forth for each disciplinary case, and interacting with the public, professional societies, dental schools, state regulatory and/or federal agencies.
When a complaint is filed with the agency, the Investigations Division processes the complaint and provides the complaint to the intake attorney to assess the agency’s jurisdiction over the complaint. The complaint is then assigned to an investigator or inspector. The inspectors and investigators work in the field and are mailed the appropriate documents. The inspectors contact the parties involved in the allegations at issue in the case (Respondent, Complainant, any subsequent treating dentists) to obtain patient documents and other additional relevant information. The investigators perform similar tasks but also conduct on-site inspections if necessary. After the inspector/investigator completes their investigation, they prepare an investigative report summarizing their findings. The inspector/investigator then sends the investigative materials back to the Austin office for processing. Investigators assist the Legal Division in various ways, including serving subpoenas or orders on licensees, conducting additional investigation at the request of the Legal Division, and testifying on behalf of the Board at the State Office of Administrative Hearings. Investigative staff completes 600-900 investigations per year, depending on staffing levels.”
Page 102 describes the Executive Division of the TSBDE:
In addition to providing leadership and motivation to meet the agency’s vision, the division also performs the following activities:
1.Manages the day to day operations of the agency;
2. Ensures that the strategic goals of the agency are met;
3. Implements agency objectives and monitors the agency’s performance and operational effectiveness and effficiencies;
4. Provides policy advice to the Board and Implement Board policies;
5. Ensures agency compliance with statewide goals;
6. Interacts with the Texas dental, dental hygiene, dental assisting and dental laboratory technician schools:
7. Monitors and reviews state and national issues affecting the dental community and implement legislation passed by the Texas State Legislature that affects agency operations and the practice of dentistry;
8. Participates in national organization and forums:
9. Disseminates and monitors agency information via social media, newsletters, formal media requests and agency website;
10. Oversees the overall budget, space allocaiton, purchasing and contracting needs of the agency; and
11. Reponds to questions and customer service issues raised by the media, general public, stakeholders, consumer organizations and members of the legislature.
I give Ms. Parker a big fat F.
One last question, why does Director of Dental Practice, Brooke Bell, DDS earn so damn much more than everyone else on the board? (over $125k, while the ED pulls in a measly $92k, others even less)
It certainly appears that Kelly Parker is running interference for someone or some company, question is at whose direction? All her emails would be of interest I would think.
Who is she, would be big question. How did she get from Lousiana to ED of the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners?
Who recommended her? Who appointed her and when? What did she know and when did she know it? A deep dive into her past might be very revealing; it usually is, right?