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N.C. rehab employees indicted for bribery and conspiracy

By Elisabeth Arriero
earriero@charlotteobserver.com

A Burke County drug and alcohol treatment center and some of its employees have been indicted after authorities say they allowed patients to submit fraudulent urine samples to avoid substance detection.

Clean on Green, based out of Morganton and Lenoir; owner Lewis R. Dorman, III, 62, of Morganton; Levi J. Michaels, 41, of Morganton; and Lerry Ratley, 60, of Rock Hill were charged, U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins said.

All the defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the False Claims Act.

Dorman, Ratley and Michaels are charged with bribery of a public official. Dorman and Clean on Green also face one count of making false, fictitious or fraudulent claims.

The six-count indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in Asheville on Aug. 6.

Clean on Green was a facility providing alcohol and drug treatment services in Morganton, according to the indictment. As the center’s owner, Dorman signed contracts with the U.S. Probation Office for the Western District of North Carolina to provide counseling services and to collect and process urine samples of individuals on federal pretrial release, supervised release, parole or probation.

The U.S. Probation office relied upon the urinalysis results to inform the U.S. District Court or the Parole Commission about whether a probationer or parolee was using controlled substances, which would be a violation of the conditions of release or parole, the indictment said.

The contract between Clean on Green and the U.S. Probation Office specified a urine collection protocol to ensure that the test results were accurate and reliable, according to the indictment.

The indictment says that Michaels was a Clean on Green employee responsible for substance abuse assessments, administering and monitoring urinalysis screenings and scheduling drug and alcohol abuse counseling sessions.

Ratley’s primary duty was conducting group counseling sessions, the indictment said.

The indictment alleges that between 2010 and 2012, Dorman and Michaels allowed individuals to fraudulently submit substitute urine samples to avoid the detection of a controlled substance.

On multiple occasions, Michaels accepted $40 to $50 in exchange for allowing individuals to bypass proper urine collection protocols.

From 2010 and continuing until around July of 2012, Doman and Ratley repeatedly allowed individuals supervised by U.S. Probation to claim attendance at counseling sessions when they did not attend the required sessions, the indictment alleges.

Ratley on several occasions accepted cash payments for allowing the clients to skip the required counseling sessions, according to the indictment. On one such occasion, a client scheduled to attend a three-hour group counseling session only stayed at the facility about three minutes and, in return, paid Ratley $40 in cash to falsify the attendance forms, prosecutors allege.

“These individuals allowed countless criminals to cheat the judicial system in order to line their own pockets,” said John Strong, Special Agent in Charge at the FBI Charlotte. “Now they will be held accountable for taking money from those offenders unwilling to follow the conditions of their release.”

The False Claims conspiracy charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The false, fictitious or fraudulent claims charge carries a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and each bribery of public official charge carries a maximum of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Arriero: 704-358-5945; On Twitter: @earriero
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