Investigations


Doctors and the opioid crisis: An AJC National Investigation

After Dr. Hasan Babaturk was fired from a medical practice for his erratic behavior, he took his prescription pad and came up with a new business model. He met patients in parking lots, shopping malls and motels, where they paid him $250 to $350 in cash. Babaturk then gave them what they wanted: prescriptions for high doses of oxycodone. “It’s easy money,” the doctor said, explaining...


Whistleblower cases cost Fulton taxpayers $575,000, and counting

Whistleblower cases cost Fulton taxpayers $575,000, and counting

It was a brazen scheme by a mid-level Fulton County employee to help fund a side business with taxpayer money. Nicola Hosier, a former financial systems supervisor in the Human Services Department, used her county-issued credit card to buy linens, chairs, place settings, appliances, silverware, champagne flutes and other items for her private event-planning business, Exquisite Events Atlanta LLC,...
AJC editor appears on Dr. Oz today to discuss opioid investigation

AJC editor appears on Dr. Oz today to discuss opioid investigation

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s national investigation of doctors who overprescribe opioids will be featured on today’s episode of the Dr. Oz show. AJC Editor Kevin Riley will appear as a guest on today’s show to discuss the newspaper’s groundbreaking series. The investigation found that America’s doctors continue to flood the nation with opioids, years after...
Whistleblower cases cost Fulton County taxpayers $575K, and counting

Whistleblower cases cost Fulton County taxpayers $575K, and counting

Maria Colon, a former investigator for Fulton County’s defunct Office of Professional Standards, has settled her whistleblower lawsuit against the county for $325,000. SPECIAL It was a brazen scheme by a mid-level Fulton County employee to fund a side business using taxpayer money. Nicola Hosier, a former financial systems supervisor in the Human Services Department...
Ruling comes in long-running legal battle over a Georgia overdose death

Ruling comes in long-running legal battle over a Georgia overdose death

Was the death of Patrick Desmond, a former Marine being treated for addiction at a Narconon clinic in the Norcross area, an “occurrence”? That legal question was finally settled in a California courtroom last week, almost 10 years after the 28-year-old’s death from an overdose of alcohol and opiates. “The neglectful provision of alcohol to and deficient...
Atlanta couple accused of smuggling steroids

Atlanta couple accused of smuggling steroids

An Atlanta man already under criminal indictment for making supplements spiked with steroids is facing new charges that he and his wife smuggled steroids and other dangerous substances into the U.S. In the scheme, more than 50 kilograms of so-called designer steroids were hidden under legitimate compounds shipped from China, according to a federal indictment that supersedes one handed down in...
Many Georgia prescribers miss pill-tracking deadline

Many Georgia prescribers miss pill-tracking deadline

A third of Georgia’s physicians and half of the state’s dentists failed to meet the Jan. 1 deadline to register for the state’s prescription drug monitoring program, a crucial tool in the state’s effort to combat the opioid crisis. A state law passed last year required all of the state’s prescribers to create accounts with the pill-tracking database, which doctors...
Capitol scorecard: Ga. ethics reform five years later

Capitol scorecard: Ga. ethics reform five years later

Five years ago, state lawmakers convened in Atlanta and set about the task of ethics reform with the enthusiasm of teenagers told to clean their rooms. For years, lobbyists were allowed to give unlimited gifts of any value to public officials as long as they reported them. But a prolonged pressure campaign by “good government” groups and embarrassing media exposure pushed lawmakers...
Georgia paid twice for care of some Medicaid patients

Georgia paid twice for care of some Medicaid patients

Georgia’s mistakes led the state and federal governments to make duplicate payments for care of some Medicaid patients, a new audit says. Now, Georgia is being asked to refund the federal government’s share of the duplicate payments — more than $665,000. The over-payments happened because the Georgia Department of Community Health mistakenly...

Update: Court won’t hear Georgia woman’s allegation of rape

When Dr. Paul Harnetty goes on trial in Wyoming later this month, the jury won’t hear a report by a Georgia woman that he had raped her, according to a news report. A Wyoming radio station reported that a woman contacted Casper, Wyoming police on Nov. 27 and said she was sexually assaulted by the doctor in December 2011. But a judge excluded that information from his...
Roswell company warned that its products are adulterated

Roswell company warned that its products are adulterated

A Roswell company illegally sold an unapproved new drug, marketing it as a dietary supplement that could be used as a “physique enhancing agent,” federal regulators say. That product, recalled last year, can cause life-threatening reactions including liver toxicity, and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. In a warning letter sent in December to William...
Mysterious departure of Georgia doctor explained in Wyoming courtroom

Mysterious departure of Georgia doctor explained in Wyoming courtroom

Mum was the word when obstetrician Paul Harnetty lost his privileges at Warner Robins-area hospitals in 2010 and was “disassociated” from his medical group. Patients were left in the dark — some women didn’t find out he couldn’t deliver their babies until they showed up at hospitals in labor. The Georgia Composite Medical Board didn’t shed...
Watchdog: New tax bill bad for Georgia’s film workers

Watchdog: New tax bill bad for Georgia’s film workers

Union officials are warning that the Republican tax overhaul rewards the rich while soaking the working class. Yeah, we’ve heard it before, but the union I’m talking about represents a fast-growing part of the state economy: the entertainment industry. “There is a lot of anxiety going on right now,” said Chuck Thomas, an Atlanta-based screenwriter and co-host of the Atlanta...
Evangelist from Elaine Boyer’s kickback scheme dies of heart failure

Evangelist from Elaine Boyer’s kickback scheme dies of heart failure

Rooks Boynton, the evangelist accused of helping former DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer funnel tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars into her own pockets, has died of congestive heart failure, according to his obituary. Boynton, 75, died the day after Christmas and four months after federal prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges against him of federal program theft and federal program theft...
Secret recordings cost Ga. prison hospital administrator his job

Secret recordings cost Ga. prison hospital administrator his job

The top administrator at the state’s troubled prison hospital has been forced out of his job after being caught secretly recording conversations with other corrections officials on his state-issued cell phone, documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution show. Randy Brown, the health services administrator at Augusta State Medical Prison since 2004, abruptly retired on Dec. 8 after...
Georgia patients still at risk from hospital-acquired infections

Georgia patients still at risk from hospital-acquired infections

Years after public health officials declared war on hospital-acquired infections, Georgia still lags behind other states at protecting patients from dangerous conditions they can develop while being treated for something else. When it comes to life-threatening bloodstream infections that come from central lines inserted into a large vein for care, Georgia ranks among the worst in the nation, according...
Mother questions son’s unexplained death in state psychiatric hospital

Mother questions son’s unexplained death in state psychiatric hospital

On Christmas morning last year, Dorothy Berry got the gift she hadn’t dared wish for. Her only son was coming home. Matthew Bohler had been locked up — first in jail, then in a state psychiatric hospital — for six months since his arrest during a psychotic episode. But on Christmas, he called Berry to say he would be released a few days later. He never made it home. Early on...
Botched response turns airport outage into city embarrassment

Botched response turns airport outage into city embarrassment

One thing was clear from the start: Something went terribly wrong. Firefighters arrived beneath Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport Sunday at 1:04 p.m. to find black smoke and toxic fumes choking a utility tunnel as long as 4,000 feet. They tried to peer inside, but it was impenetrable. “In my 28 years, I’ve never seen a fire this intense down in a tunnel area,&rdquo...
Ga. doctor prescribed weight-loss drug to patients she never saw

Ga. doctor prescribed weight-loss drug to patients she never saw

For more than two decades, Dr. Jan McBarron has been one of the country’s most outspoken physicians in calling out traditional medicine for its reliance on prescription drugs. Across multiple platforms, including a series of books and a nationally syndicated radio program, the Columbus weight-loss specialist has regularly expounded on how vitamins, herbs and other natural products can be...
Georgia among last states to post nursing home investigation reports

Georgia among last states to post nursing home investigation reports

Obamacare mandates it. The feds gave state health agencies eight years to get it done. But with a deadline days away, Georgia still hasn’t posted all the required records online that could help families steer clear of the worst nursing homes. A little-known provision of the Affordable Care Act requires every state to have a user-friendly website with links to enforcement records for every skilled...
Fake debt scheme nets more than $200,000. Downside: possible 20-year prison sentence

Fake debt scheme nets more than $200,000. Downside: possible 20-year prison sentence

How’s this for a business plan: Form a company, call a bunch of people and get them to pay money they don’t owe. It may sound dubious, but it was a money maker, apparently bringing in more than $200,000 in a few months’ time, court documents say. Sharing in the haul were two Georgia residents  — Derron Washington and Jennifer Smith — using  a list...
Zero communication

Zero communication

His family missed their flight for a Hawaiian vacation because of Sunday’s Atlanta airport nightmare. So the exasperated dad hammered out a list of questions and emailed them to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution — questions that speak to the excruciating ordeal suffered by tens of thousands of travelers, and how the city left them in the dark, literally and figuratively. Why leave planes...
How the airport debacle unfolded

How the airport debacle unfolded

For hours, passengers at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport were kept literally and figuratively in the dark about what was happening, as lights were out, smoke wafted through concourses and planes were stuck on the tarmac. Here’s how events unfolded. 12:38 p.m. - Georgia Power is alerted to “multiple faults” on its network at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. 1:32...
Vogtle saga puts Georgia Power’s clout in spotlight

Vogtle saga puts Georgia Power’s clout in spotlight

What Georgia Power sold to state legislators wasn’t just a deal. It was the future. Clean, renewable nuclear energy. No climate-changing hydrocarbon emissions. No worries about volatility in the global supply of natural gas. All lawmakers had to do, according to the state’s largest and most influential utility, was approve a new way to finance construction of two new nuclear reactors at...
Who’s sorry now? Company whose employees dumped toxic waste in Savannah

Who’s sorry now? Company whose employees dumped toxic waste in Savannah

Courts all over the country have been ordering criminal defendants to apologize for their misdeeds. In Michigan, a judge ordered a state official to apologize for her role in the Flint water crisis.  In Pennsylvania, a court ordered a former judge to write letters of apology for her crimes and send them to every judge in the state. In Louisiana, a college student accused...
Job applicants cheated out of hundreds of dollars each

Job applicants cheated out of hundreds of dollars each

How low can you go? How about cheating people anxious for better-paying jobs in housekeeping and maintenance? Applicants to a Georgia job-placement company called National Vocation Group were deceived into believing they could be placed in jobs that paid up to $17 an hour, federal prosecutors say. To be hired, applicants were told they needed to shell out $349 for training...

You better watch out: Holiday season votes coming on nuclear project, internet, taxes

Hold on to your seat – and watch your wallet. Over the next two weeks, federal and state authorities are planning to vote on controversial measures that may affect your utility bills, taxes, internet speeds and children’s access to healthcare. Dec. 14 – The FCC votes on whether to repeal net neutrality rules enacted under the Obama administration. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai...
How SCAD sells a dream

How SCAD sells a dream

The best-paid college president of 2014 walked the red carpet, ready for her close-up. The limelight is a familiar place for Paula Wallace, president of the Savannah College of Art and Design. On this evening last year, she posed for photographers with her husband at the school’s annual film festival. Often, she appears beside a celebrity visiting SCAD, as the school is known. It might...
Atlanta weather: Friday’s traffic no SnowJam, but painful all the same

Atlanta weather: Friday’s traffic no SnowJam, but painful all the same

Metro Atlanta averted another traffic disaster from a few inches of snow — but just barely. Friday’s winter storm had all the ingredients for a sequel to the region’s “Snowjam ‘14,” when a mere 2.6 inches of snow paralyzed the region and turned the area into a national laughingstock. By early afternoon, snowfall had already surpassed predictions. Schools...
Georgia medical board easy on opioid violators

Georgia medical board easy on opioid violators

Dr. Nevorn Askari started out as a pediatrician, not a drug dealer. But after getting busted for Medicaid fraud, this Emory University-trained doctor chose another path. She accepted a part-time job at a “pain clinic” operating out of a rundown Atlanta house. She saw 40 patients a day and most left happy, even though they waited hours for exams and spent only 5 or 10 minutes with the doctor...
Backlog of Ga. prison medical requests may put inmates’ health at risk

Backlog of Ga. prison medical requests may put inmates’ health at risk

Thousands of Georgia prison inmates, including some who could be gravely ill, have yet to undergo recommended tests or consult with specialists because of a massive backlog in the Department of Corrections’ approval process, documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reveal. As of last week, nearly 2,750 orders for inmates to see oncologists, cardiologists and other specialists or...
Doctors rethink pain treatment

Doctors rethink pain treatment

Dr. Don Teater didn’t start out declaring war on opioids. In fact, as a small town family doctor, he prescribed them. “I heard the message from the pharmaceutical industry and the government and others that we weren’t treating pain well enough, that we need to prescribe more opioids — and that it was very safe,” Teater said. So, like most doctors in America, he embraced...
Journalist’s conviction reveals deep mistrust of media in Trump era

Journalist’s conviction reveals deep mistrust of media in Trump era

This week, a Dawson County jury acquitted citizen-journalist Nydia Tisdale of felony charges of obstruction of an officer three years after she was dragged screaming from a GOP political rally at a local pumpkin farm. Tisdale was convicted on misdemeanor obstruction charges and still faces the prospect of jail time or a fine, but the verdict came as a modest relief to advocates for press freedoms...
L.A. lawsuit accuses Atlanta-based LogistiCare of putting patients in peril

L.A. lawsuit accuses Atlanta-based LogistiCare of putting patients in peril

This van owned by a middle Georgia company is part of a fleet of medical transport vehicles overseen by LogistiCare. It is more than a decade old and has clocked more than 450,000 miles. SPECIAL A lawsuit filed in Los Angeles blasts the way Atlanta-based LogistiCare handles medical transportation for millions of Medicaid patients in the nation’s most populous county...
Doctors and the opioid crisis: An AJC National Investigation

Doctors and the opioid crisis: An AJC National Investigation

To examine the role of doctors in America’s deadly opioid epidemic, the AJC scoured public documents from across the nation. The newspaper’s reporting uncovered more than 1,000 cases of doctors disciplined since 2016 for risky prescribing, many of whom are still seeing patients today. The newspaper also identified nearly 150 recent federal court cases against doctors who were prosecuted...

With fake IDs, three Georgia men collected $666,537, prosecutors say

By posing as tax officials, three Georgia men took part in a scheme that cheated thousands of people across the U.S. out of more than $3.5 million, federal officials allege. Dunwoody residents Moin Gohil, 22, and Nakul Chetiwal, 27, and Tucker resident Parvez Jiwani, 39, are accused of using fake IDs to pick up $666,537 wired from 784 victims who thought they were...
Former Atlanta pension adviser suspended and fined by SEC

Former Atlanta pension adviser suspended and fined by SEC

Larry Gray, a former adviser to some of metro Atlanta’s largest public pensions, has been suspended by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for intentionally defrauding city of Atlanta and MARTA retirement systems. An SEC order dated Nov. 22 suspends Gray from serving as or working for an investment adviser for two years, then he must apply to the SEC for reinstatement. He is also required...
Doctors sidestep limits on opioids, authorities say

Doctors sidestep limits on opioids, authorities say

As states have imposed new restrictions on opioid prescribing, some doctors have devised dodges, according to allegations in disciplinary documents and court records. In Florida, Dr. Laurence Mark Skolnik reportedly said that to allay state concerns about doctors who prescribed only addictive and dangerous drugs to pain patients, he also prescribed small amounts of various, seemingly innocuous medications...
Tisdale’s camera pits free speech against property rights

Tisdale’s camera pits free speech against property rights

Citizen-journalist Nydia Tisdale is in the fight of her life. For most of this decade, Tisdale has been a fixture in Georgia’s civic life, largely a silent fixture. An open government purist, Tisdale attends public meetings, press conferences and various community event and points her video camera at them. Then she puts them on her website and YouTube, largely unedited and without commentary...
Alpharetta nursing home operator to pay $1.25 million over shoddy care

Alpharetta nursing home operator to pay $1.25 million over shoddy care

The nursing home was plagued by roaches, rodents, ants and snakes. One snake was discovered after a bedridden resident complained of leg pain. When a staff member pulled back the covers to investigate, the snake jumped out at her. In the showers, mold was widespread, and there were no curtains to provide privacy. Privacy wasn’t a priority, anyway. The staff would bring in several women to the...
Georgia agency plays keep away with Medicaid records

Georgia agency plays keep away with Medicaid records

A diabetic woman with an amputated leg fell from a wheelchair in this van in 2012. Her injuries caused her to lose her left arm. SPECIAL Should Georgians have the right to see how state government contractors plan to rectify contract violations? Not if the contractor in question says no. That’s how the Georgia Department of Community Health sees it, anyway. In light of ...
Warden for troubled Georgia prison hospital reassigned

Warden for troubled Georgia prison hospital reassigned

The warden who has been in charge at Augusta State Medical Prison for the last 18 months has been reassigned, a signal that state corrections officials want new leadership at the facility as it deals with the sanitation and safety concerns recently brought to light by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Georgia Department of Corrections spokeswoman Joan Heath confirmed Tuesday that at...
Medicaid patients’ deaths didn’t prompt state action

Medicaid patients’ deaths didn’t prompt state action

Georgia’s Department of Community Health apparently handed down no sanctions against a state contractor after a 58-year-old paraplegic died from falling off a wheelchair lift in May. Before that, there’s no record of sanctions after a 34-year-old double amputee died following a wheelchair spill in 2015. And so the pattern of avoidable injuries continues within the system charged...
Lax oversight leaves patients at risk in Medicaid rides program

Lax oversight leaves patients at risk in Medicaid rides program

The van driver didn’t strap the disabled patient’s wheelchair down, then took a shortcut through a grassy lot and hit a hole, pitching the diabetic woman with an amputated leg to the floor. The passenger lost her left arm as a result of her fall. Another van driver slammed on his brakes in traffic, jettisoning a woman from her wheelchair. She hit her head and dislocated her shoulder. Other...
State’s Medicaid transport system gives contractor an upper hand

State’s Medicaid transport system gives contractor an upper hand

Medicaid patients who don’t have transportation can get free rides to dialysis, checkups, rehabilitation, pharmacies and other medical visits. That’s because the federal government wants to keep them out of emergency rooms and keep overall health care costs low. To run those non-emergency medical transportation programs, states have the option to use contractors, known as brokers. Georgia...
AJC Watchdog: Little sunlight on local campaign donations

AJC Watchdog: Little sunlight on local campaign donations

Four years ago, the Georgia General Assembly passed a little-noticed change in state law that has resulted in dramatically less sunlight on who is paying to elect candidates in local races. The legislation — House Bill 143 — said candidates for county or city offices no longer had to file their campaign contribution and financial disclosure forms with the state ethics commission....
Marietta man accused of bilking elderly investors

Marietta man accused of bilking elderly investors

What happened with the widow’s money? At least 44 times after a Marietta investment adviser was asked about it in a bankruptcy proceeding, he invoked the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination, court documents say. Now, Jay Costa Kelter — formerly known as Ignatius J. Costa III — is facing federal civil accusations that he bilked the 75-year-old widow...
Conditions make Georgia prison hospital breeding ground for infection

Conditions make Georgia prison hospital breeding ground for infection

The unsafe and unsanitary conditions at Georgia’s flagship prison medical facility are worse than previously reported and could jeopardize the health of inmates already dealing with cancer and other serious illnesses, newly obtained photos and documents reveal. Photos obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in the last two weeks show standing water and filth from leaking ceilings only feet...
Ga. Supreme Court ruling baffles open government advocates

Ga. Supreme Court ruling baffles open government advocates

When is a record of court not a “court record?” When the Georgia Supreme Court says so. In a recent decision, the justices ruled that the public has no right to access audio from inside the state’s courtrooms. “Disclosure,” a popular legal affairs podcast, had sought recordings from a 2001 murder trial in Floyd County, and...
Decatur trucking firm ordered shut down as imminent hazard

Decatur trucking firm ordered shut down as imminent hazard

Keep On Trucking has been ordered to immediately stop all operations after a federal investigation found that the freight company was placing its drivers and the public at risk of serious injury or death. Among numerous violations, the Decatur-based company used unlicensed or suspended drivers and operated vehicles with defective brakes, lights or other equipment failures,...
Watchdog: What do Georgia judges have to hide?

Watchdog: What do Georgia judges have to hide?

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s podcast “Breakdown” is a good listen, but it’s more than just that. Just ask Justin Chapman. In its first season, “Breakdown” focused on the case of Chapman, a Bremen man serving a long sentence for killing his neighbor in an intentionally set fire. The podcast made liberal use of archival audio, including courtroom recordings...
Neighborhood fights proposed QuikTrip and asks, ‘Why here?’

Neighborhood fights proposed QuikTrip and asks, ‘Why here?’

If you travel down Jimmy Carter Boulevard near the I-85 interchange, a gas station isn’t hard to find. In fact, it’s a heavily traveled thoroughfare, complete with convenience stores, strip malls, banks and fast-food restaurants. And it’s jam-packed with Gwinnett County commuters making their way to Atlanta. That’s probably why QuikTrip chose a parcel of the highway between...
AJC readers speak: Booting cars in Georgia needs legislative solution

AJC readers speak: Booting cars in Georgia needs legislative solution

Sarah Saltzman drove to the Avalon shopping center in Alpharetta a few weeks ago to return a pair of shoes in one of the development’s many shops. She found a relatively close parking space, walked to the store and returned in short order to find a big, yellow boot on her tire and a note on her windshield with a number to call to have it removed. Saltzman took out her phone, but before she could...
Documents: Unsanitary conditions long ignored at Ga. prison hospital

Documents: Unsanitary conditions long ignored at Ga. prison hospital

Bags of garbage have piled up outside the operating room, attracting flies and mosquitoes. During surgery, dealing with the insects has become one of the occupational hazards for doctors and nurses. Mold has contaminated the ceiling in the dental unit and a wall in a second-floor corridor of the hospital. In the dialysis center, water has dripped under the sink into containers put there to catch it...
Inquiries into deaths of disabled Georgians fall short, report says

Inquiries into deaths of disabled Georgians fall short, report says

When a woman with developmental disabilities drowned in the bathtub, state investigators took two months to conclude she had suffered no neglect. But even then, the investigators missed critical information: Two state-provided caregivers were supposed to keep the woman in sight at all times. Instead, they had once let her go to McDonald’s on her own – and left her alone in the tub for...
More bad news for supplement king: Judge orders $40 million penalty

More bad news for supplement king: Judge orders $40 million penalty

It has been a difficult month for Jared Wheat, the Atlanta-area dietary supplement entrepreneur. And that’s putting it mildly. Less than a week after federal authorities unsealed an indictment accusing the Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals CEO of wire fraud, money laundering and other charges, a federal judge has ordered him, his company and an associate to pay more than $40 million to resolve an unrelated...
Head of SEC’s Atlanta office will step down

Head of SEC’s Atlanta office will step down

The regional director of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Atlanta office is leaving the agency. Walter Jospin will step down once his successor is chosen, according to an SEC news release. He has held the position since February 2015. Jospin leads a staff of about 100 attorneys, accountants, compliance examiners and other specialists who take on white collar cases throughout the...
Atlanta housing agency: $120M windfall for developer in disputed deal

Atlanta housing agency: $120M windfall for developer in disputed deal

A controversial deal to require the city’s low-income housing authority to sell prime parcels of vacant land to a developer would hand them over at a $120 million discount, according to estimates obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. If the sale goes through, it could amount to a king-sized subsidy towards the construction of high-end, market-rate homes, and harm the city’s efforts ...
AJC readers sound off about failure to keep accused killer locked up

AJC readers sound off about failure to keep accused killer locked up

I got an earful from readers who responded to last week’s column about Delvin Gates, the 17-year-old whose string of burglaries and other property crimes tormented neighbors in West End over the last several years. Gates now stands accused of murder in DeKalb County. Folks had a lot of concerns about Gates, but the common thread is the belief the state needs to do a better job communicating...
Prison doctor resigns after lawsuit with amputee is settled

Prison doctor resigns after lawsuit with amputee is settled

Two weeks after Georgia agreed to pay $550,000 to a diabetic inmate who lost his leg, the prison doctor responsible for his treatment has informed her supervisor that she will resign. Dr. Chiquita Fye will leave her position as medical director at Macon State Prison by the end of the month, according to an Oct. 1 letter she wrote to Dr. Billy Nichols, the medical director for Georgia Correctional...
Faith, family, firearms drive Georgia’s devotion to Second Amendment

Faith, family, firearms drive Georgia’s devotion to Second Amendment

An outsize American flag flies above the factory where Daniel Defense makes some of the world’s highest-priced assault rifles. At NASCAR races, the No. 3 car flashes the Daniel Defense logo. And when the company’s founder talks about his values, he distills them to three potent words: faith, family, firearms. Daniel Defense, based in Bryan County, 25 miles northwest of Savannah, is...
Feds accuse Roswell lawyer of helping orchestrate client’s Ponzi scheme

Feds accuse Roswell lawyer of helping orchestrate client’s Ponzi scheme

From left, Credit Nation attorney Marc Celello, ex-CFO Michael Sullivan and CEO Jim Torchia. Sullivan, who had a falling out with Torchia, provided this 2007 photo. Federal regulators say attorney Marc Celello did more than just whisper advice in the ear of a Cherokee County businessman accused of running a massive Ponzi scheme. The general counsel for Jim Torchia&rsquo...
AJC Watchdog: Did the system fail murdered movie worker?

AJC Watchdog: Did the system fail murdered movie worker?

Last month, police arrested Delvin Gates, 17, and charged him with the murder of 50-year-old Joseph Livolsi, a special effects technician who worked on blockbuster movies filmed in Atlanta. Gates’ arrest raises some troubling questions, including why he wasn’t in jail to begin with. Going back to 2015, Gates was known to Atlanta police as a “top, repeat juvenile offender&rdquo...
Atlanta dietary supplement mogul faces new criminal charges

Atlanta dietary supplement mogul faces new criminal charges

Atlanta dietary supplement CEO Jared Wheat is once again in the crosshairs of federal authorities, this time facing 18 criminal charges that cover a variety of business practices. An indictment, unsealed Thursday, lays out a laundry list of allegations against Wheat and his Norcross-based company, Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, that, if proven, could send the well-known supplement entrepreneur to prison...
Film worker’s alleged killer had a long record. Why wasn’t he behind bars?

Film worker’s alleged killer had a long record. Why wasn’t he behind bars?

Last month, Delvin Gates was charged with murder in the shooting death of Joseph Livolsi, a 50-year-old father of two who worked special effects for some of the blockbuster movies that film in metro Atlanta. Livolsi’s body was discovered July 15 in his apartment on Candler Road near I-20. An Xbox was missing. Gates is 17, hardly a babe by today’s standards of juvenile violence...
These are the oldest mass shooters in U.S. history

These are the oldest mass shooters in U.S. history

Las Vegas authorities have named 64-year-old Stephen Paddock as the shooter in the deadliest rampage in U.S. history. While most mass shooters have been ages 20-50, at least three others were in their 60s. William D. Baker, 66. The former Navistar International worker armed himself with an AK-47 assault rifle and other weapons and went to the company’s Chicago-area plant, where he...
Georgia slow to investigate when nursing home patients may be at risk

Georgia slow to investigate when nursing home patients may be at risk

Georgia nursing home patients who may be at imminent risk of serious injury or death have not been able to rely on the state to immediately investigate, according to a new report by a federal watchdog agency. When a patient may be in immediate jeopardy, states are federally required to conduct onsite investigations within two days of receiving the complaint. But with hundreds of complaints, Georgia...
Former CEO of Atlanta Medical Center added to federal kickback case

Former CEO of Atlanta Medical Center added to federal kickback case

Another former Tenet Healthcare executive has been criminally charged in a federal healthcare fraud case that now accuses two former CEOs of Atlanta area hospitals of paying kickbacks and bribes in exchange for patient referrals. William Moore was the CEO of Atlanta Medical Center William Moore, the CEO of Atlanta Medical Center from 2001 to 2014, was accused in a 13-count federal indictment...
Ga. waits on feds to improve lax nursing home rules after Fla. deaths

Ga. waits on feds to improve lax nursing home rules after Fla. deaths

Officials in Florida moved quickly to tighten regulations on nursing homes and assisted living facilities following the heat-related deaths of 11 senior citizens in the power outage caused by Hurricane Irma. But in Georgia, where regulations on emergency power generators in senior facilities are just as lax, officials are waiting for federal regulations to go into effect. But even the new...
AJC Watchdog: Florida nursing home deaths could have happened here

AJC Watchdog: Florida nursing home deaths could have happened here

Eleven deaths in a Hollywood, Fla., nursing home are blamed on excessively high temperatures during the power outages caused by Hurricane Irma. Following the tragedy, Gov. Rick Scott directed state officials to enact emergency regulations requiring the state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have generators and 96-hours of fuel on hand to run the air conditioner during power...
Georgia to pay $550,000 to convicted murderer because of amputation

Georgia to pay $550,000 to convicted murderer because of amputation

The state of Georgia has agreed to pay $550,000 to a diabetic inmate serving a life sentence for murder to settle his lawsuit alleging that he lost his left leg because of improper care and neglect by a prison doctor. The settlement means Michael Tarver’s case against Dr. Chiquita Fye, the medical director at Macon State Prison, won’t go to trial as scheduled this month and ends an improbable...
Feds surveying Irma damage, aid expected

Feds surveying Irma damage, aid expected

Tropical Storm Irma left cities and counties across Georgia with millions of dollars in damage and tons of debris to haul away. This looks like a job for the federal government. Teams of disaster experts with the Federal Emergency Management Agency fanned out across the state this week to survey the damage, the first step in unlocking disaster aid under President Donald Trump&rsquo...
AJC Watchdog: Keep a close eye on Irma disaster aid

AJC Watchdog: Keep a close eye on Irma disaster aid

Disasters assistance experts have fanned out across Georgia to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Irma, the next step in freeing up millions of dollars in federal aid. Some of the heaviest damage is in Glynn County , where last week Irma flooded the streets of Brunswick and St. Simons Island, leaving a huge mess in its wake. County spokeswoman Kathryn Downs was in a...

Did Atlanta’s veterans crisis hotline fall short in helping suicidal veterans?

VA officials touted a crisis hotline center launched in Atlanta last December as a cornerstone of a renewed push to curb the problem of veteran suicide. More than 300 staff were hired and trained in Atlanta, and by April VA officials testified before Congress about the crisis line’s success answering the needs of suicidal veterans. The new center and the one operating...
Irma victims now may face insurance struggles

Irma victims now may face insurance struggles

Jill Ebrecht stood outside her flooded Tybee Island home Thursday as workers hauled her soggy furniture into her yard. Like many houses on Tybee, Ebrecht’s home was extensively damaged a year ago by Hurricane Matthew. Now, Irma has left another trail of destruction. “Matthew messed me up,” she said as she took stock of another round of belongings destroyed by a hurricane. &ldquo...
In Newark, a final word on Beverly Hall

In Newark, a final word on Beverly Hall

  Beverly L. Hall was the state-appointed school superintendent in Newark, New Jersey, before taking over Atlanta Public Schools in 1999. ELISSA EUBANKS / AJC   The final word is finally being written on the long and controversial career of the late Beverly L. Hall. When New Jersey took over Newark’s failing school system in 1995, it tapped Hall &ndash...
CDC to scientists: Shh!

CDC to scientists: Shh!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta is the largest federal agency headquartered outside Washington. JENNI GIRTMAN/Special The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reportedly cracking down on the release of information to the public by its scientists and other staff members. Axios, an online political-news site, obtained a memo...
Gwinnett lab implicated in Tennessee ‘pill mill’ indictment

Gwinnett lab implicated in Tennessee ‘pill mill’ indictment

Federal prosecutors in Tennessee say a Gwinnett County drug testing lab paid bribes and kickbacks and filed fraudulent reimbursement requests to the state and federal government. But no one from Lawrenceville-based Confirmatrix Labs has been charged, despite a lingering federal interest in the urinalysis lab and its founder, Khalid Satary. The indictment filed in East Tennessee stems from ...
Settlement drops claim that drug company improperly promoted risky drug for children

Settlement drops claim that drug company improperly promoted risky drug for children

A pharmaceutical company accused of downplaying the potential cancer risk of a best-selling diabetes drug will pay about $60 million to settle lawsuits, the U.S. Justice Department has announced. Novo Nordisk was supposed to make sure that physicians and patients knew that its drug Victoza had an unknown risk of a certain type of thyroid cancer. Instead, the government...
AJC Watchdog: Gwinnett urine lab implicated in bribery scandal

AJC Watchdog: Gwinnett urine lab implicated in bribery scandal

A federal indictment filed in Tennessee claims a Gwinnett County urinalysis lab paid bribes and filed fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement requests. The charges add to Lawrenceville-based Confirmatrix Labs’ increasingly shady reputation and that of its founder, a Palestinian foreign national with a criminal past. The indictment filed in East Tennessee stems from an alleged network...
Videos show Georgia prison guards waiting as 24-year-old commits suicide

Videos show Georgia prison guards waiting as 24-year-old commits suicide

Surveillance videos of the suicide of a Georgia prison inmate show officers standing by as the 24-year-old commits suicide. The videos, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, show how the incident unfolded in real time and conflicts with accounts filed by prison officials. Read the latest on the AJC’s investigation at myAJC.com.
Videos: 4 guards outside cell as Georgia inmate hanged himself

Videos: 4 guards outside cell as Georgia inmate hanged himself

Guards at Smith State Prison didn’t try to stop troubled inmate Richard Tavera from hanging himself until four had assembled outside his cell, videos obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution show. By then, more than seven minutes had passed since the first report Tavera was attempting suicide, and nothing could be done to save his life, the videos show. The videos add to the evidence that...
Alt-right says new video shows self-defense in Charlottesville assault

Alt-right says new video shows self-defense in Charlottesville assault

A five-second video circulating on the internet shows Charlottesville, Va., resident DeAndre Harris swing a club or flashlight toward a white nationalist marcher in a tussle with another man over a flag. Alt-right activists are claiming the video is proof that Harris was the aggressor and that they were protecting themselves when they surrounded and beat him, a scene caught in another video shortly...
AJC Watchdog: Alt-right spins tales of victimhood in Charlottesville

AJC Watchdog: Alt-right spins tales of victimhood in Charlottesville

Even as Michael Ramos turned himself in to police this week on charges that he maliciously beat Charlottesville, Va., resident DeAndre Harris, white supremacists are busy developing a counter attack: Harris was the assailant. Harris is the black man seen in online videos on the floor of a parking garage in the waning hours of the Aug. 12 “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville struggling...
Georgia woman admits stealing money intended for low-income housing

Georgia woman admits stealing money intended for low-income housing

Half the population in Nicholls, Georgia, resides in the Coffee County Correctional Facility, at least according to census counts. The city is also known for horse shows at Wiregrass Arena. Now, one of its newest residents is a focus of federal attention. Lorena Loren owns a custom-built, 2,858 square foot Nicholls home, with salt water pool, 24-foot ceilings and a detached...

OSHA shrinks worker death list, cutting most Georgia fatalities

Detailed public information about U.S. workers killed on the job was removed Friday from the homepage of the federal agency responsible for workplace safety, replaced with an abbreviated list elsewhere that omits many deaths and other details. That new list, for example, includes the deaths of only two Georgia workers so far this fiscal year, which began Oct. 1. But information ...
How much medical care has to be provided to prisoners? Question is central to Georgia inmate’s case

How much medical care has to be provided to prisoners? Question is central to Georgia inmate’s case

The U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that prison inmates must receive some form of medical care. After all, what other options do they have? Far less clear is how good that care has to be. The issue, open to discussion for decades, is front and center in the case of Michael Tarver, the Georgia inmate who lost his left leg when a small scrape became severely infected...
Atlanta protest groups: Who is who?

Atlanta protest groups: Who is who?

We live in a time when the nation’s deep political divisions are played out in street protests that pit groups from the right and left against each other, sometimes with violent consequences. But even as groups are marching in the streets, a lot of the names are not familiar to average Georgians. What is “antifa”? Who is the League of the South? What do any of these groups...
Georgia doctor fails polygraph on sex with patients, gets suspended

Georgia doctor fails polygraph on sex with patients, gets suspended

The Georgia Composite Medical Board has suspended the medical license of Dr. Peter Ulbrich, a physician with a long history of sexual misconduct, according to a board order made public on Thursday. Ulbrich had already been disciplined by the Georgia medical board for sexual misconduct when another patient complained about him last year. The patient said the doctor had made...

11th Circuit hears arguments today in Wells Fargo case involving overdraft fees

By changing the order of customers’ debit transactions, Wells Fargo for years racked up extra money through overdraft charges. It worked like this: You have $100 in your checking account and first draw $25, then have a transaction for $75 and later another for $100. The bank would reorder the transactions, putting the $100 one first so it could collect overdraft fees...
AJC Watchdog: Atlanta’s activists, from A to Z

AJC Watchdog: Atlanta’s activists, from A to Z

The news these days is filled with such a dizzying array of protests, movements and organizations, one might be forgiven for getting a little mixed up. Legacy civil rights groups like the NAACP are well known and an active part of current protests. And unfortunately some equally well-known hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan are still around. But there are a lot of new players in Atlanta. Here&rsquo...
Georgia inmate’s lawsuit beats the odds, heads to trial

Georgia inmate’s lawsuit beats the odds, heads to trial

When Michael Tarver first reached out, Mike Brown didn’t immediately jump in. Tarver, an inmate doing his time at the state prison hospital in Augusta, wanted Brown, an attorney based in the city, to help with a lawsuit he had filed a year earlier. But Brown wasn’t ready to commit until he looked closely at the suit. Then he made a startling discovery: This was...
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