Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 13, 2014

Missed misdemeanor

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Crime — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

File this one under, oopsie!  Yesterday the East Bay Citizen working with The Alamedan on a “joint investigation” uncovered via a tip on the East Bay Citizen’s website a very embarrassing incident in the life of City Councilmember Stewart Chen.   Hopping in the way way back machine they uncovered that 20 years ago Stewart Chen had pled guilty to two misdemeanors and was placed on two years probation and had to pay $50K in restitution. To nutshell, he was embroiled in some sort of insurance fraud scheme involving faked auto accidents.

Naturally Stewart Chen is very embarrassed about all this and blames the guilty plea on his lawyer, who was eventually disbarred, who urged him to take this route instead of fight his innocence out in court.  Although I imagine, at the time, two years probation and $50K in restitution looked like the better deal given what sort of sentencing could have been handed down if the case went to court.   Now, of course, 20 years later and an upcoming election looming in November, hindsight being 20/20 and all that it seems like a mistake to not have battled it out in court.

Anyway, the story turned to the political side of this disclosure and of course Stewart Chen made the usual noises about potential opponents using this in the upcoming election and honestly maybe some will, but will it make a difference?  Meh.  It really depends on who is going to be running and given the completely wide open seat that Lena Tam will be vacating.  Unless there are a lot of really high profile candidates that will be duking it out and will need to use every tactic to get a bit of a leg up, then yeah, I think gunning for Stewart Chen won’t be front and center unless there are a lot of candidates with a similar level of name recognition.   But honestly this news about Stewart Chen comes so early in the election cycle it will be hard for the average voter to remember what precisely it was about Stewart Chen that they vaguely remembered there being something newsworthy about.   As long as he just concentrates on making headlines about stuff that has nothing to do with insurance fraud or anything where this could be brought up in an article as a throwaway mention then he should probably be okay.

Honestly what people should be more concerned with regarding Stewart Chen is not a 20 year old misdemeanor plea, but the fact that he’s just kind of a marginal City Councilmember.  Is he a great policy maker?  Nope.  Is he terrible enough to be entertaining at least?  Nope.  He’s just sort of warming a seat at this point and makes vague platitudes and sweeping generalizations but never really strikes me as someone particularly well versed in what’s going on at the City Council.  So I hope if voters decide to throw him over this year, it’s because there is someone better that could be placed on the City Council, not because he made a lot of questionable ethical decisions two decades ago.

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51 Comments

  1. So illegal activity, and a guilty plea in the face of significant evidence only rates a “meh”?

    My first reaction was shock at our blogmistress’s lack of shock, especially considering the answer he gave on this blog about the “hardest decision in his professional life” being to run for office rather than take a plea to save his ass.

    But as I moved into my third cup of coffee, it occurred to me that “meh” is the right response. There is already so much corruption, venality, pay to play etc on council that a major fraud rap really isn’t all that.

    Think about it:

    -The mayor took money from another elected official and promptly hired him for a job for which he had no prior experience (and how often do cities hire other cities’ electeds??).

    -Tam willfully betrayed the city’s negotiating position on 2 very significant issues, and was penalized by adoration on this blog and re-election. She also took cash from Russo.

    -At least 4 of the 5 (maybe all five, not 100% sure about Daysog) have taken money from the IAFF and supported cupcake deals for them in return. (Chen & Ashcraft verbally, they haven’t had a chance to vote a contract yet, but their support is clear. Chen publicly thanked the IAFF for their help electing him. Gone but not forgotten is Bonta and his puppet strings).

    If one can so blithely countenance this sort of corruption (even if it’s legal, taking money & voting favors IS corrupt) then it’s easy to see why major malfeasance followed by a coverup rates only a “Meh.”

    Such Augean levels of stink even Hercules would be intimidated.

    Meh.

    Comment by dave — February 13, 2014 @ 7:15 am

  2. Change “coverup” to “extremely disingenuous obfuscation that no rational person would consider honest”. Rest of still stands.

    Comment by dave — February 13, 2014 @ 7:25 am

  3. The “meh” is in response to whether this news will actually make a difference in the election, not whether the information is pearl clutching. I personally think — as I wrote above — unless there are lots of candidates with similar name recognition as Stewart Chen the information will not be used because (a) negative campaigns are costly and (b) require getting someone else (aka PAC) to do your dirty work for you to not make the stink of the negative campaign fly back in your face.

    If you aren’t a known name are you going to spend what little money you have dissing another candidate or putting out information about yourself?

    The only three people who I can think of that can run with similar levels of name recognition and the wherewithal to get a PAC behind them are: Beverly Johnson, Frank Matarrese, and Doug deHaan. Frank Matarrese and Stewart Chen are buddies and I don’t think he would wage a negative campaign against Stewart Chen or get whatever union he can collect behind him to do it. Beverly Johnson hasn’t shown signs of being interested in anything City of Alameda related lately. Doug deHaan is the only likely option and could probably get ACT or someone to run negative mailers, but I sense that he might be going after the Mayor’s seat, and not content to be a City Councilperson again.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 13, 2014 @ 7:32 am

  4. I understand what you meant, and in a sense agree with you. So much corruption already it probably won’t make much difference. The Kingfish would feel right at home at Oak & Santa Clara.

    Comment by dave — February 13, 2014 @ 7:36 am

  5. I felt I needed to clarify since your first sentence appeared to completely mischaracterize what I wrote.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 13, 2014 @ 7:43 am

  6. I guess for me, a guy can screw up, pay the price, rehabilitate himself (See: Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie), and regain the community’s trust by working through a succession of increasingly responsible positions. However, when the conversation turns to the quality of the lawyering and “coulda, woulda, shoulda,” I’m tempted to glance over at the Bullshit-O-Meter and see that it’s indicating. As far as taking money from various organizations to run political campaigns, it’s more of a question of whether we’re serious enough about stopping that practice that we will support publicly financed campaigns.

    Comment by Tom Schweich — February 13, 2014 @ 8:21 am

  7. Tom,

    Would a law requiring a council member to recuse from any vote benefitting a contributor be sufficient? Would it be sufficient to clean up the pay-for-play without the financial burden of taxpayer financed campaigns?

    As for quality of lawyering, I’d say it was pretty good. The state had sworn testimony & and enough other evidence to fry him. Walking with a fine, no jail time & keeping his license was a good performance. That lawyer earned his fee.

    Comment by dave — February 13, 2014 @ 8:35 am

  8. You get into muddy waters when the talk turns to recusals based on “benefiting” a contributor. Who decides what the “benefit” is? Is it only when the benefit is financial? Or when the council members votes on any issue that is a pet project of that contributor? Or when a council member decides to call for review a project in order to save a contributor the fee for filing an appeal?

    The cleanest way is as Tom S. proposed, that we get serious and support publicly financed campaigns. The suggestion of adding codas to current and existing conflict of interest laws seem to be actively targeting the campaign activity of one particular union that has a lot of impact on Alameda elections. There are lots of unions who have made lots of contributions to lots of campaigns, I can’t say I ever saw anyone get upset when Frank Matarrese was on the City Council having the benefit of a lot of money from the Carpenters Union and pushing Project Labor Agreements for construction projects in Alameda.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 13, 2014 @ 8:51 am

  9. Are the carpenters taking 1/3 of the GF?

    Comment by dave — February 13, 2014 @ 9:04 am

  10. Based on this and a quick read of “the other Alameda blog”, I’d say we’ve only seen part of this dump site. There’s a summary of the accusations, but not the rebuttal. No exploration of the background of his lawyer who was disbarred shortly after for, among other things, abandoning his clients. There’s reason to believe we don’t have enough to cast stones at our neighbor yet.

    Comment by Li_ — February 13, 2014 @ 9:08 am

  11. You said “benefit” a contributor. Is asking for a Project Labor Agreement for all construction projects not a “benefit”?

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 13, 2014 @ 9:12 am

  12. 11:

    It certainly is. It’s also de minimis relative to the IAFF.

    But yes, it is, and in my ideal world, it would also be grounds for recusal.

    The *idea* of a publicly financed campaign has merit, but how will it be financed? The city has had several years of structural deficit, due primarily to you-know-who feeding at the trough. The unfunded liabilities due to said hogs further complicate the budget issue. Parks/Rec and public works have been gutted — have you tried a drinking fountain in a park lately? — while firemen still earn double or more a teachers’ salary. The city is digging under the couch cushions looking for any spare change it can find, including hiring a tax farmer, which the history majors out there will recognize from pre-revolutionary France.

    How do you expect to pay for that? Serious question.

    I propose an “ethical recusl” law as a cheaper, simpler option, though welcome any suggestions for a snappier sounding name.

    Comment by dave — February 13, 2014 @ 9:26 am

  13. I don’t know what “Meh” is or means? I haven’t really been paying a lot of attention to Alameda Politics in the last few years, so I really didn’t know who Stewart Chen is…but his crimes were going to be felonies and he pled them down? I don’t probably wouldn’t vote for him…as insurance fraud is something that effects everyone…as it raises the cost of insurance and health care. If he robed a grocery store 20 years ago…I could probably look over that. As far as disclosure it all comes out somehow.

    As far as deHann for mayor, didn’t he run for mayor 8 years ago?…I didn’t like him then and I still don’t. deHann just has different political views then me and when I went to some counsel meetings he always was the one who seem unprepared and basically voted against things which I thought were good whereas everyone else on the counsel voted the other way. I didn’t see how he actually made a difference…he just filled a seat.

    I guess I should start getting involved in Alameda Politics more but Alameda Politics are so much more bitchy then SF Politics and I just got tired of all the drama. I think that is why a lot of people stay clear of it all.

    Comment by Joe — February 13, 2014 @ 9:54 am

  14. Why are so many Alamedans-including this blog’s mistress- too lazy to read the actual documents, which were posted with the article by Michele Ellson?. Chen was Indicted by an Alameda County Grand Jury on 16 Felony Counts: insurance-fraud related & grand theft. He was accused of falsifying medical records for profit. Having a doctor cook up fake records is key to making any of these insurance fraud schemes work. There were 2 other docs: a chiropractor & a physician. The physician lost his license permanently; the other chiropractor fled to South Carolina. The fact that Chen remained working in the community-& he didn’t profit very much- probably helped get his charges busted down to a misdemeanor. But to whitewash this by saying “I did not do anything wrong” & “They had a weak case” seriously calls his integrity into question. What happened was very wrong, sustained a conviction, & a case has to be pretty strong to merit a Grand Jury Indictment. And looking at the lawyer’s misconduct record, Chen’s case doesn’t appear to be on it.
    All the accusations of misconduct which have been thrown at other Alameda politicians over the years are just rumor & innuendo if there have been no formal charges. This case is very different.

    Haven’t you ever wondered how people get appointed to these non-elective Alameda boards? Since 2 previous mayors appointed Chen to office, which is how he got the standing to run for elective office in the first place, there must be rather sloppy vetting & background checks of candidates going on at City Hall!

    This is the year 2014, not 1936, & our [new] City Manager literally wrote the book on Transparency in Government. ‘Bout time we see some.

    Comment by vigi — February 13, 2014 @ 10:06 am

  15. Being indicted by the grand jury doesn’t mean one is guilty, it just means that the grand jury found that there was enough evidence to file charges and take it to a — for lack of a better term — “real” trial. At any point, even if a “real” trial has commenced the defendant can cop a plea. In this case Stewart Chen pled down from felonies to two misdemeanors, no jail time and only $50K in restitution aka not technically a “conviction” by the grand jury.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 13, 2014 @ 10:22 am

  16. Regarding public financing for elections, funding is always and forever going to be an issue on how to make public financing work. I definitely don’t have a good solution for it, but sometimes the cleanest way doesn’t mean it’s not going to incur some sort of cost. Sometimes in the benefit of public interest we have to determine that a cost (public financing of elections) is worth it for the greater good of having candidates that we can perceive are not beholden to any special interest. Whether or not that is actually the case, I’m not entirely sure given that there will always be the ability for PACs to play a huge role in elections where individuals candidates may not have to fundraise to run their own campaigns.

    Whether a “ethical recusal” might be a simpler solution, I don’t think it is so cut and dry. I guess determining whose “ethics” is the judge on whether someone should recuse themselves is the toughest nut to crack.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 13, 2014 @ 10:28 am

  17. Is “only 50k” some sort of defense of his actions?

    Comment by dave — February 13, 2014 @ 10:29 am

  18. No, it means that he got off pretty easy so the protestations that he was screwed over by his lawyer is pretty weak, which is what I pretty much said in my original post.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 13, 2014 @ 10:31 am

  19. #3 – Lauren, while many members of ACT applaud the work Doug DeHaan has done for our city, it is a strict policy of the organization that, under no circumstances, does ACT support or malign any candidate for public office. The organization provides an evenhanded forum for all candidates to address the electorate during election season. Individually, some of us may support and assist a candidate but not as Alameda Citizens Task Force. In addition, our $15 annual dues can only afford to maintain a website and purchase minimal office supplies. It is laughable to even imagine operating as a PAC running a negative campaign exposing the improper actions of any candidate.

    ACT would like to see our city return to the concept that candidates voluntarily agree to budget caps as were determined by a city council the year before Ann Marie Gallant’s dismissal. That agreement was put on hold until after the election because some candidates had already secured PAC funding and/or had spent more than the agreement would have allowed. The first meeting of the following year when the newly seated council should have put that agreement into place for future campaigns was pre-empted by Gallant’s departure. Personally, I have always wondered about the timing of these events and why we have never returned to enact the campaign strategy meant to level the playing field and allow voters an unobstructed understanding of each candidates strengths and weaknesses. Once seated on the dais, it would also allow voting officials to make their choices without concern for future political financial backing.

    Comment by Nancy Hird — February 13, 2014 @ 10:40 am

  20. #15: You watch too much TV, Lauren. He said “they didn’t have anything on me”. FALSE. An Indictment is prima facie evidence they had something on him. Whether it rises to the level of a conviction is for a jury to decide. But he did plead “guilty”, not “nolo contendere”; which he could have done, & which would support his recent claims of innocence. This was a Major Insurance Fraud Ring, with ties to Asian Gangs, & extended across the Bay to SF. Saying “In my mind…it never happened” most judges would say that’s evidence you have not been properly rehabilitated!.
    Instead of whatever you’re watching now, might I suggest you watch a few episodes of “American Greed” on CNBC? People running the Ponzi schemes are always nice guys no one thinks can be capable of what they’ve done.
    It’s too bad, I voted for him.
    If you want a safer community, maybe start with cleaning up the City Council, not buying Automated License Plate Readers.

    Comment by vigi — February 13, 2014 @ 10:44 am

  21. Sorry Nancy H. I actually wasn’t thinking of your organization when I mentioned PACs that might be able to help a Doug deHaan run, sometimes all the acronyms muddle together and I’ll chalk my suggestion of ACT up to sheer memory lapse.

    Vigi: Stewart Chen saying “they didn’t have anything on me” is vastly different than your contention that some how an indictment by the Grand Jury = slam dunk case. It does not. Grand jury indictments, unlike those court cases you see on TV, do not have the same requirements of unanimity for a ruling. Personally, what Stewart Chen’s behavior strikes me as is his inability to take responsibility for his own actions. However, unlike you, I didn’t vote for him.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 13, 2014 @ 11:04 am

  22. Vigi has been watching too much Law and Order.

    As a private citizen, I of course want a well run city. I also think it’s a meh. 50k penalty and 2 years probation. This isn’t good behavior. But not the worst. I hope he has learned a lesson.
    Our courts decided judgement and it’s done. Maybe some want to reconvene a second trial against Mr Chen?

    If you look at the issues facing our city. We’ve had more drama from: beach drowning, Kapler gasgate, Kapler suit, Cowan golfgate, Cowan hotelgate, Gallant “firing” suit.

    Comment by BeeepBeep — February 13, 2014 @ 11:14 am

  23. Please do not twist my words. If you don’t know what a term means, look it up. “Prima facie” means “at first appearance” , “on the face of it”. What I’ve written does not contend that anything is a “slam dunk”. After law enforcement got a warrant, they searched his home, seized his computer & a ledger of records that he prepared. I’m sure Chen was presented with copies of everything they “had on him” at Discovery. He shouldn’t lie about it. Chen had an opportunity for Due Process, in the face of which he pled guilty.

    In my experience, subjects usually plead guilty to far less than they have actually done. Maybe I am being too harsh, but Doctors of any sort who abuse the power of their profession give all of us a black eye.
    And I did not know Lauren Do was an attorney or licensed health care professional of any kind. I thought she was just an apologist for the incumbents at City Hall.

    Comment by vigi — February 13, 2014 @ 11:24 am

  24. 14,15. I’m not particularly excited by a Grand Jury indictment; still remembering the Viet Nam war era when they were used for political purposes against students and academics. I don’t think the situation with regard to the secrecy of Grand Jury deliberations or that protection of civil rights from abuse of Grand Jury powers has improved much since then.

    Comment by Tom Schweich — February 13, 2014 @ 11:25 am

  25. Grand juries are famously stereotyped as willing to indict ham sandwiches, but he did plead guilty & pay a fine, and the evidence against was significant. This was no trumped up charge against an innocent person.

    Comment by dave — February 13, 2014 @ 11:32 am

  26. so in the end I guess I wont be voting for Mr. Chen, and neither will Dave or Vigi.

    Comment by John P. — February 13, 2014 @ 2:13 pm

  27. In Dave’s world, multi-millionaires that self-fund their campaigns should run for seats on the Alameda City Council so they can leave Park Street blighted without a theater and cut the salaries of our police and firefighters. I work with Stewart Chen on projects with the Knights of Columbus and have found him to be a public servant that has contributed to making our community a better place to live. Serving on the Alameda City Council seems to be a thankless job with no pay and people dredging up your past or making false accusations to discredit you. I still wonder why Stewart (or anyone) would run.

    This council and city manager has cleaned up city hall. When there are high-paying corrupt officials making $200K (Gallant, Kapler, and Highsmith) terrorizing staff and reneging on agreements, it gives the city a black eye. I say good riddance.

    Comment by Dennis V. — February 13, 2014 @ 4:07 pm

  28. The Alamedan has posted a response from Steward Chen >> http://thealamedan.org/news/op-ed-response-to-your-investigation

    Comment by Jack B. — February 13, 2014 @ 4:09 pm

  29. In my world, private businesses are financed with private capital, In my world, politicians serve the voters and the taxpayers, not the unions who eat ~75% of the city’s budget with compensation pkgs far above what taxpayers earn. In my world PSBA members buy their own garage. In my world movies aren’t considered priorities for government spending.

    But I’d love to hear how the current council and manager (who earns that magic number you reference) have cleaned up city hall. Please enlighten me.

    Comment by dave — February 13, 2014 @ 4:54 pm

  30. Witnesses who testified before the grand jury said they would sometimes show up at Chen’s office, sign in and then leave without receiving treatment; they also said under oath that some of the signatures attributed to them were not theirs. One witness said she received treatment from Chen’s staff about half the time she went to his office, for pain unrelated to the staged accidents; the other half of the time, she signed in and left, without receiving treatment.

    “During 1990 respondent prepared false billing statements and medical reports which inflated the amount of treatment he actually rendered to various insurance claimants who were involved in staged auto accidents,” the accusation says.

    “I did not do anything wrong,” Chen said in an interview this week. “They didn’t have anything on me.”

    I will just give you 50K and take 5 years probation on my license.

    Comment by Does not pass the smell test — February 13, 2014 @ 4:59 pm

  31. For starters, check out the next council agenda (http://legistar1.granicus.com/alameda/meetings/2014/2/3355_A_City_Council_14-02-18_Meeting_Agenda.pdf), The city manager is asking for permission to change existing labor contract agreements throughout the year, instead of just telling the employees to go pound sand. The changes in the public works department have been huge, but that not very visible except for the tree fiasco on Park Street. Labor cost will always be the biggest slice of the pie in a government service organization. Check out the budgets of every city in the state. If cities were run like businesses, we would only engage in profitable services, which are not museums who can’t pay rent, animal shelters, ball fields, parks, safety inspections, libraries, or sewer repairs.

    The City’s bond rating went from from AA to AA+ because of a 20% reserve, after stabilizing employee cost with four years. Park Street is bustling with restaurants (sale tax paying businesses) and shops, and the civic center parking garage is full. The catalyst effect of the garage and theater turned around a business district that was languishing since the 1980s.

    Comment by Dennis V. — February 13, 2014 @ 5:20 pm

  32. That agenda item is a step toward pounding the taxpayers with mid year pay raises.

    Please tell me how sales tax revenue has been raised in exchange for 3MM/yr debt service.

    The rating change was primarily one of methodology, rather than underlying credit strength.

    Comment by dave — February 13, 2014 @ 5:38 pm

  33. If you don’t pay to repair your infrastructure to the tune of 100’s of millions of dollars and keep deferring these costs as roads and city assets deteriorate and don’t pay 100’s of millions in pensions and medical obligations who couldn’t balance budget…….

    But the real issue is the actions of our council member and do we want someone who pleaded felonies down to misdemeanors representing us and still living in denial…..Do we trust the witnesses under oath at the time that they testified contrary to his story now.

    Comment by Pass the Smelling Salt — February 13, 2014 @ 8:13 pm

  34. It is actually Funny to hear that ,
    This is coming from the same man who qualified the owner of Mc Gee as a bad business man during a City hearing because He was raising the rent to a tenant He had not raised the rent in Years .
    No one plead guilty to a crime they did not commit , unless they are mentally unstable .
    Either way they are unfit for public office.
    We do not need crook running the city Time for a Total recall.

    Comment by Time to clean up City hall — February 13, 2014 @ 8:59 pm

  35. Let see He is not a totally stupid man ? so why He did not appeal the sentence with another Attorney , Afraid the other Judge would give him Hard time ???
    If I knew I was innocent , I take my chances 50K back then would buy you hell of good Attorney.
    Time to step out …..City Hall is crooked they need another FBI investigation , this time people will speak ………

    Comment by recall them all. — February 13, 2014 @ 9:08 pm

  36. 12) “The city is digging under the couch cushions looking for any spare change it can find, including hiring a tax farmer, which the history majors out there will recognize from pre-revolutionary France.”

    Historically, tax farming meant the State would bestow upon private individuals the right to collect certain taxes for the state and in return keep a percentage of those taxes collected. In some cases the State (Rome) would even auction off the tax farming position since it could become a lucrative position.

    Could you expand on the method Alameda is using?

    Comment by Jack R — February 14, 2014 @ 5:59 pm

  37. Jack, an outside business license auditor. See a letter in this week’s Sun.

    Comment by MI — February 14, 2014 @ 7:21 pm

  38. Re: Sun letter, Scary!

    Once the Third Estate starts gathering on the tennis courts the Farmers and their sponsors would be wise to begin harvesting telephone poles.

    Comment by Jack R — February 15, 2014 @ 10:20 am

  39. Municipal Auditing Services LLC. ( MAS) is what the letter we received from the city calls them, in my opinion is nothing but a strong arm collection agent hired by the city. My son who does not live or work in Alameda has received at my address three letters from them. He has called and explained to them that he hasn’t worked or lived in Alameda for years, but they just keep on sending this garbage mail to my address. I agree with the letter writers in the paper. This is just a really bad idea from our city staff to hire a company like this.

    Comment by John P. — February 15, 2014 @ 3:45 pm

  40. @27: “I still wonder why any one would run” for City Council. You really don’t know, DV? Answer= Free health insurance for you & your dependents!!! That works out to a perk of tens of thousands of dollars. Plus you don’t have to worry about what is/is not covered. The best available.

    Much better than a mere salary. Why else would people seek to stay in office as long as possible?

    Do you know which Catholic Mass Chen goes to on Sundays, cuz I’ve never seen him at one.?

    Comment by vigi — February 15, 2014 @ 4:40 pm

  41. Stewart Chen, DC, DABDA

    Dr. Chen graduated from Palmer Chiropractic College West in 1987. Upon graduation, he successfully passed his National and State Board examinations the first time through.

    In 1995, he was certified in Industrial Disability Examination. The following year, he was appointed by the California State Industrial Medical Council as a Qualified Medical Evaluator.

    In October 1997, Dr.Chen became a Diplomate in the American Board of Disability Analyst. On August 7,2001, Dr. Chen was appointed by the Mayor of Alameda as the Commissioner of Social Service Human Relations Board.

    Don’t you find it odd getting appointed by the California State Industrial Medical Council as a Qualified Medical Evaluator for Disabilty just after just pleading guilty to 2 misdemeanors for fraud and then become a Diplomate in the American Board of Disability Analyst.

    Didn’t we have a huge Disability problem with our Fire Department and a unusual amount of cases way beyond the norm.

    Comment by Confused — February 15, 2014 @ 5:57 pm

  42. There would appear to be a nexus between getting busted for preparing fraudulent medical records for people who weren’t in bona fide auto accidents, and becoming an official who certifies people disabled for the purpose of collecting disability benefits. But, it’s probably nothing…

    I thought our state had rules about what kind of background could even apply for the job of Qualified Medical Examiner. Guess not…

    Comment by vigi — February 16, 2014 @ 2:02 pm

  43. •The structure of the program is itself one of the reasons. Some disabilities are apparent but many alleged disabilities have no observable or apparent symptoms. A claimant could allege disability due to back injury, for example. Nearly everyone of a certain age has pains of one type of another. One person may claim those pains are disabling and attempt to claim benefits while another sloughs them off and continues working. The person who claims benefits can usually find a medical practitioner who will attest to “treating the patient for months.” Such “verification” comes complete with a set of medical records.

    http://voices.yahoo.com/ssa-disability-fraud-arrests-extend-beyond-12292814.html?cat=9

    Comment by vigi — February 16, 2014 @ 4:54 pm

  44. ” The person who claims benefits can usually find a medical practitioner who will attest to “treating the patient for months.” Such “verification” comes complete with a set of medical records.”

    Witnesses who testified before the grand jury said they would sometimes show up at Chen’s office, sign in and then leave without receiving treatment; they also said under oath that some of the signatures attributed to them were not theirs. One witness said she received treatment from Chen’s staff about half the time she went to his office, for pain unrelated to the staged accidents; the other half of the time, she signed in and left, without receiving treatment.

    Comment by Not that confused any longer — February 16, 2014 @ 5:27 pm

  45. Absent what you know now, would you would vote again for Chen Vigi?

    Comment by Jack R — February 16, 2014 @ 7:45 pm

  46. Coincidentally, on CNBC’s “American Greed” this past Sunday [16 Feb 2014] was Episode 64: “Crash For Cash” A Philadelphia con man gets four years in prison for leading a massive auto insurance fraud scheme that involves 267 associates, 187 fraudulent insurance claims and 44 car accidents. Anyone who wants to understand how these scams work should watch this episode. This scam only needed a single doctor, a chiropractor, to make it work, but he was indispensable. Without his cooperation, the phony personal injury claims would never have been paid. One of the “patients” said on the show that “Hey, I’m getting paid to go to this guy’s office for a massage every week. Who wouldn’t do it?” But a doctor should know better.

    More important than how I vote is the stunning list of 33 hi-profile individuals who endorsed Chen, as listed in BBA’s pre-election post:

    https://laurendo.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/you-asked-they-answered-stewart-chen-city-council-candidate/

    You mean to tell me all of these individuals knew about his background and still endorsed him [like Trish Spencer, Karin Lucas, Frank Matarrese]?? Or was this list fabricated, too?

    Many busy voters, who don’t have time to do much research of their own, vote for a candidate based on who has endorsed him/her. I know I have on occasion. Maybe one of these prominent citizens can explain why his fraudulent scheming doesn’t matter anymore. Mr. Chen’s published remarks in response to the story have so far been less than satisfactory.

    Lauren, when you ask the candidates questions before the next election, one of those questions should be: “Have you ever been indicted by a Grand Jury?” It’s time.

    Can’t wait for the Mayor’s State of the City address tonight.

    Comment by vigi — February 18, 2014 @ 10:12 am

  47. Those endorsements shouldn’t surprise you, the Loco-Foco party probably considers Chen’s scam action an innovative initiation rite to solidify party membership.

    Comment by Jack R — February 18, 2014 @ 5:47 pm

  48. It’s highly doubtful any of them knew at the time. What matters now is if they continue to support him.

    Comment by dave — February 18, 2014 @ 6:20 pm

  49. In your heart (and their’s) you know they do.

    Comment by Jack R — February 18, 2014 @ 6:50 pm

  50. 48) But those that did know, at least those in the elected politics realm, would have an ace up their sleeve if they chose to play it. Plus the Hippocratic oath doesn’t apply to Chiropractors.

    Comment by Jack R — February 18, 2014 @ 7:37 pm

  51. Actually, Jack, (real) doctors..that is, MDs haven’t taken the Hippocratic oath since Roe v Wade in 1973, because the Hippo oath explicitly says: “I swear never to procure for any woman an abortion”. There’s a modernized oath, composed by the University of California, which we take at graduation. The Hippocratic Oath was printed next to it in my graduation program “for historical interest”.
    Re: endorsements. I bet some of those people don’t even know they are on that list.

    Comment by vigi — February 19, 2014 @ 9:40 am


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