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Crime & Law
Narconon under investigation again
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Narconon under investigation again

Narconon under investigation again
Photo Credit: Pete Combs
Agents from the Georgia Insurance Commissioner’s office and Gwinnett County District Attorney are looking for evidence of insurance fraud from Narconon of Georgia.

Narconon under investigation again

Update: STATEMENT OF NARCONON OF GEORGIA

Narconon is aware of the investigation. Narconon of Georgia follows customary and professional billing practices and procedures. Payment terms are clearly explained to all students.


Narconon of Georgia has served the Atlanta community for the past decade offering drug education, prevention and rehabilitation services. Scores of successful Narconon graduates and their families can attest that the program has transformed lives through recovery and sobriety.

The Scientology-linked drug rehabilitation program known as Narconon of Georgia is again in trouble with the law. This time, agents from the Georgia Insurance Commissioner’s office and Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter are looking for evidence of insurance fraud.

Armed with a search warrant, half a dozen agents, accompanied by two Gwinnett County Police officers, searched the Narconon offices in Norcross, questioning employees as they showed up for work and hauling away more than a dozen computers and boxes full of documents.

“We have credible information that indicates that insurance fraud is taking place with Narconon,” said Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.

Much of that information was supplied by the family of 19-year old Emily Morton of Rome, who said Narconon tried to bill United Health Care $166,000 for her treatment after they were told they had paid the bill in full - $15,000 cash.

“They were billing for doctor visits – one amount was for $58,000.00. And she never even saw the doctor,” Morton said.

The doctor visits were billed under two names: Dr. Casey Locarnini at the Dunwoody Urgent Care Clinic and Dr. Lisa Robbins at the Robbins Health Care Alliance in Stone Mountain.

When asked about billings for treatment of Emily Morton, Dawn Warner, an employee of Robbins Health Care Alliance, emailed the following statement:

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We have NEVER authorized Narcanon or anyone associated with Narcanon to bill ANY insurance under Dr. Robbins. We have NOT seen any of Narcanon's students in several years. Since this does not effect the privacy of our patients, I can tell you we have never seen a patient named Emily Morton. If they indeed did bill under Dr. Robbins this is insurance fraud. I would like to find out how many times they have done this sort of thing. I simply cannot believe that Narcanon would have the gall to try something like this again. Thank you for your assistance.

Similarly, News-Talk WSB received a statement from Douglas Chalmers, Jr., an attorney who represents Dr. Locarnini:

“A number of weeks ago, Dr. Locarnini provided notice that he was terminating his contract with Narconon. This past week, he retained our law firm to fully investigate the billing issues that have been brought to his attention…. For a variety of reasons, including protecting the privacy and confidentiality of his patients, he is not able to comment further at this time.”

Hudgens said both Warner and Locarnini were cooperating with his office.

“From talking to some of the physicians,” Hudgens told WSB’s Pete Combs, “They have not performed the services that have been billed for.”

Georgia law states that only a person, not a corporation, can be charged with insurance fraud.

Investigators hauling away computers and documents said they were looking for who might have been responsible for any false billings to insurance companies. Not only will they analyze the documents for that information, but they will also analyze the computers themselves.

“Each individual normally has passwords. So if we can tie down the password to the person, then we will be able to determine who it was that submitted the claims,” said Insurance Commission Fraud Unit Lead Investigator Sherry Mowell.

THE LATEST IN A STRING OF ISSUES FACING NARCONON

Friday’s raid was the latest in a series of legal challenges confronting Narconon, which critics have claimed is controlled by the Church of Scientology.

In February, Narconon of Georgia and its parent company, Narconon International, settled a multi-million dollar lawsuit in the death of patient Patrick Desmond in 2008. That investigation led to the initiation of licensure revocation proceedings by the Georgia Department of Community Health.

Narconon’s flagship facility, Arrowhead in southeastern Oklahoma, is embroiled in several lawsuits over the deaths of four patients. In all, Narconon facilities nationwide face approximately 20 lawsuits.

An attorney for former Narconon of Georgia Executive Director Mary Reiser said he was withholding comment on Friday’s raid until he could get a look at the search warrant.

Full story on the past investigation

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  • Charles Manson, the hippie cult leader who became the hypnotic-eyed face of evil across America after orchestrating the gruesome murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six others in Los Angeles during the summer of 1969, died Sunday after nearly a half-century in prison. He was 83.Manson, whose name to this day is synonymous with unspeakable violence and madness, died at 8:13 p.m. of natural causes at a Kern County hospital, according to a California Department of Corrections statement.Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, reacted to the death by quoting the late Vincent Bugliosi, the Los Angeles prosecutor who put Manson behind bars. Bugliosi said: 'Manson was an evil, sophisticated con man with twisted and warped moral values.'Today, Manson's victims are the ones who should be remembered and mourned on the occasion of his death,' Hanisee said.California Corrections spokeswoman Vicky Waters said it's 'to be determined' what happens to Manson's body. Prison officials previously said Manson had no known next of kin and state law says that if no relative or legal representative surfaces within 10 days, then it's up to the department to determine whether the body is cremated or buried.It's not known if Manson requested funeral services of any sort. It's also unclear what happens to his property, which is said to include artwork and at least two guitars. State law says the department must maintain his property for up to a year in anticipation there might be legal battles over who can make a legitimate claim to it.A petty criminal who had been in and out of jail since childhood, the charismatic, guru-like Manson surrounded himself in the 1960s with runaways and other lost souls and then sent his disciples to butcher some of L.A.'s rich and famous in what prosecutors said was a bid to trigger a race war — an idea he got from a twisted reading of the Beatles song 'Helter Skelter.'The slayings horrified the world and, together with the deadly violence that erupted later in 1969 during a Rolling Stones concert at California's Altamont Speedway, exposed the dangerous, drugged-out underside of the counterculture movement and seemed to mark the death of the era of peace and love.Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, Manson maintained during his tumultuous trial in 1970 that he was innocent and that society itself was guilty.'These children that come at you with knives, they are your children. You taught them; I didn't teach them. I just tried to help them stand up,' he said in a courtroom soliloquy.Linda Deutsch, the longtime courts reporter for The Associated Press who covered the Manson case, said he 'left a legacy of evil and hate and murder.'He was able to take young people who were impressionable and convince them he had the answer to everything and he turned them into killers,' she said. 'It was beyond anything we had ever seen before in this country.'The Manson Family, as his followers were called, slaughtered five of its victims on Aug. 9, 1969, at Tate's home: the actress, who was 8½ months pregnant, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring, Polish movie director Voityck Frykowski and Steven Parent, a friend of the estate's caretaker. Tate's husband, 'Rosemary's Baby' director Roman Polanski, was out of the country at the time.The next night, a wealthy grocer and his wife, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, were stabbed to death in their home across town.The killers scrawled such phrases as 'Pigs' and 'Healter Skelter' (sic) in blood at the crime scenes.Three months later, a Manson follower was jailed on an unrelated charge and told a cellmate about the bloodbath, leading to the cult leader's arrest.In the annals of American crime, Manson became the embodiment of evil, a short, shaggy-haired, bearded figure with a demonic stare and an 'X'' — later turned into a swastika — carved into his forehead.'Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969,' author Joan Didion wrote in her 1979 book 'The White Album.'After a trial that lasted nearly a year, Manson and three followers — Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten — were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Another defendant, Charles 'Tex' Watson, was convicted later. All were spared execution and given life sentences after the California Supreme Court struck down the death penalty in 1972.Atkins died behind bars in 2009. Krenwinkel, Van Houten and Watson remain in prison.Another Manson devotee, Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme, tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975, but her gun jammed. She served 34 years in prison.Manson was born in Cincinnati on Nov. 12, 1934, to a teenager, possibly a prostitute, and was in reform school by the time he was 8. After serving a 10-year sentence for check forgery in the 1960s, Manson was said to have pleaded with authorities not to release him because he considered prison home.'My father is the jailhouse. My father is your system,' he would later say in a monologue on the witness stand. 'I am only what you made me. I am only a reflection of you.'He was set free in San Francisco during the heyday of the hippie movement in the city's Haight-Ashbury section, and though he was in his mid-30s by then, he began collecting followers — mostly women — who likened him to Jesus Christ. Most were teenagers; many came from good homes but were at odds with their parents.The 'family' eventually established a commune-like base at the Spahn Ranch, a ramshackle former movie location outside Los Angeles, where Manson manipulated his followers with drugs, supervised orgies and subjected them to bizarre lectures.He had musical ambitions and befriended rock stars, including Beach Boy Dennis Wilson. He also met Terry Melcher, a music producer who had lived in the same house that Polanski and Tate later rented.By the summer 1969, Manson had failed to sell his songs, and the rejection was later seen as a trigger for the violence. He complained that Wilson took a Manson song called 'Cease to Exist,' revised it into 'Never Learn Not to Love' and recorded it with the Beach Boys without giving Manson credit.Manson was obsessed with Beatles music, particularly 'Piggies' and 'Helter Skelter,' a hard-rocking song that he interpreted as forecasting the end of the world. He told his followers that 'Helter Skelter is coming down' and predicted a race war would destroy the planet.'Everybody attached themselves to us, whether it was our fault or not,' the Beatles' George Harrison, who wrote 'Piggies,' later said of the murders. 'It was upsetting to be associated with something so sleazy as Charles Manson.'According to testimony, Manson sent his devotees out on the night of Tate's murder with instructions to 'do something witchy.' The state's star witness, Linda Kasabian, who was granted immunity, testified that Manson tied up the LaBiancas, then ordered his followers to kill. But Manson insisted: 'I have killed no one, and I have ordered no one to be killed.'His trial was nearly scuttled when President Richard Nixon said Manson was 'guilty, directly or indirectly.' Manson grabbed a newspaper and held up the front-page headline for jurors to read: 'Manson Guilty, Nixon Declares.' Attorneys demanded a mistrial but were turned down.From then on, jurors, sequestered at a hotel for 10 months, traveled to and from the courtroom in buses with blacked-out windows so they could not read the headlines on newsstands.Manson was also later convicted of the slayings of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald 'Shorty' Shea.Over the decades, Manson and his followers appeared sporadically at parole hearings, where their bids for freedom were repeatedly rejected. The women suggested they had been rehabilitated, but Manson himself stopped attending, saying prison had become his home.The killings inspired movies and TV shows, and Bugliosi wrote a best-selling book about the murders, 'Helter Skelter.' The macabre shock rocker Marilyn Manson borrowed part of his stage name from the killer.'The Manson case, to this day, remains one of the most chilling in crime history,' prominent criminal justice reporter Theo Wilson wrote in her 1998 memoir, 'Headline Justice: Inside the Courtroom — The Country's Most Controversial Trials .'Even people who were not yet born when the murders took place,' Wilson wrote, 'know the name Charles Manson, and shudder.'___AP writer Michelle A. Monroe contributed to this report. This story contains biographical information compiled by former AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch. Deutsch covered the Tate-La Bianca killings and the Manson trial for The Associated Press and has written about the Manson family for four decades.
  • Two people wanted in connection to a police shooting were found holed up in a Gainesville home Sunday morning, police said.  Marcos Tovar, 20, and Alondra Rodriguez, 20, were arrested on charges of aggravated assault on a peace officer, Gainesville police spokesman Sgt. Keving Holbrook said.  The couple allegedly opened fire on officers, who responded to a Friday 911 call concerning a domestic dispute at a Burger King restaurant on Athens Street, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. MORE: Manhunt on for 2 accused in shootout with police Officers responded to reports of a man dragging a woman, Holbrook said. When the officers arrived at the scene, Rodriguez allegedly pulled a gun. Those officers, who were not immediately identified, were treated at a hospital and released. Holbrook said they were hurt during the altercation but were not shot.  After the incident, police took out warrants and said the couple should be considered armed and dangerous. 'They actively went after police officers with gunfire, so we know that they are dangerous,' Holbrook told Channel 2 Action News. In other news:
  • President Donald Trump continued his Twitter roasting of UCLA basketball dad and Big Baller Brand mogul LaVar Ball on Sunday evening, calling him “very ungrateful” for not thanking him for getting his son out of trouble. >> See the tweet here “Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to father LaVar. Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!” Trump tweeted. >> PREVIOUS STORY: Trump fires back after LaVar Ball minimizes role in getting UCLA players released Earlier Sunday, Trump said “I should have left them in jail!,” referring to the three UCLA basketball players arrested in China for shoplifting, one of whom was Ball’s son, LiAngelo. >> See the tweet here “Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!” Trump tweeted. >> LiAngelo Ball, UCLA teammates arrested in China could get 10 years in prison if convicted This was Trump’s response to Ball essentially saying “Trump who?” when asked on Saturday about the president’s role in helping LiAngelo. This all started when Trump tweeted after returning from Asia that the three UCLA basketball players who got in trouble for allegedly shoplifting in China should thank him for saving them from a decade in prison. >> Read the tweet here “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!” he tweeted last Wednesday morning. The players, for their part, did exactly that at an afternoon press conference the same day. “To the three UCLA basketball players I say: You’re welcome, go out and give a big Thank You to President Xi Jinping of China who made your release possible and, HAVE A GREAT LIFE! Be careful, there are many pitfalls on the long and winding road of life!” Trump said in reply. LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were returned to the United States after being arrested on charges of shoplifting, in connection with the alleged theft of Louis Vuitton sunglasses in Shanghai. The university later announced that the players would be suspended indefinitely. >> Read more trending news Previously, Rare speculated that it was possible Trump wanted to hear a “thank you” not just from the basketball players, but also from the unapologetic LaVar Ball himself. The president did not end up getting that thank you from the elder Ball. “Who? What was [Trump] over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out,” Ball said, according to ESPN. >> On Rare.us: LaVar Ball on Trump helping his son: 'Who?' “As long as my boy’s back here, I’m fine. I’m happy with how things were handled. A lot of people like to say a lot of things that they thought happened over there. Like I told him, ‘They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes,’” Ball added, downplaying his son’s alleged mistake. “I’m from L.A. I’ve seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some glasses. My son has built up enough character that one bad decision doesn’t define him.”
  • Washington may not have seen the last of 'The Mooch.'Anthony Scaramucci, the short-lived White House communications chief who was forced out after just 11 days on the job, said in an interview on Monday that he remains in close touch with the White House.He told The Associated Press that although he has not spoken to Donald Trump in over a month, he talks to members of the president's inner circle 'regularly' and sees himself working with Trump again in the future.'I have very good relationships there still, and you have to remember we were a team for 18 months, and so we all had different roles. And so I'm still playing my role frankly. I'm an advocate for the president, media surrogate when I need to be,' Scaramucci said.Scaramucci is in Israel this week as a guest of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, a U.S.-based group that works with professionals, politicians and community leaders to stimulate business opportunities and influence public policy.Scaramucci, a former Wall Street financier and successful entrepreneur, is not Jewish but said he has longstanding ties with members of the group from New York and is scouting out Israel's vibrant high-tech sector for possible future opportunities.While he said he is currently focused on his business dealings, he expects to help Trump on his re-election campaign.'At some point I'll probably be more involved from the outside, but more in a re-election capability than from inside the administration,' he said.Scaramucci, a member of Trump's campaign and transition teams, was appointed White House communications director in July. But he was fired just days into the job after he gave an expletive-laced interview to The New Yorker and made derogatory statements about several members of the Trump administration.In the interview, he was very vocal about unauthorized leaks coming out of the White House. The primary targets of his angry interview, the chief of staff at the time, Reince Priebus, and then-chief strategist Steve Bannon, have since left the administration.Scaramucci, in a dark blue suit, blue tie and crisp white shirt, joked that he had expected his term at the White House to have a longer shelf life than a 'carton of milk.'But he said that is politics and he has no regrets. He even said his term was successful in a way because he helped bring the issue of unauthorized leaks under control.'We identified quickly who many of the leakers were, and they're gone,' he said. 'You and I both know the leaks are down substantially. And that's a positive thing for the president.
  • Star NFL running back Marshawn Lynch of the Oakland Raiders was spotted sitting on the sidelines as the U.S. national anthem played before a Sunday afternoon game in Mexico against the New England Patriots. >> Read more trending news Lynch appeared to take his demonstration a step further by standing during the Mexican national anthem, according to reporters at the game: Some social media users responded, claiming that this was “false news' and that Lynch was sitting because his equipment was being worked on. According to Sports Illustrated, it’s not the first time Lynch chose to sit during the anthem. In fact, he’s been doing it all season.  The Bleacher Report said over the summer that Lynch claimed he had been sitting during the anthem for 11 years, and his coach, Jack Del Rio, responded to that by saying, “It’s a non-issue for me.” “On Marshawn, talked to Marshawn trying to make sure we’re on the same page,” Del Rio said. “He said, ‘This is something I’ve done for 11 years. It’s not a form of anything other than me being myself.’ I said, ‘So you understand how I feel, I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem. But I’m going to respect you as a man, you do your thing. We’ll do ours.’ It’s a non-issue for me.” Earlier on Sunday, Rare covered a retired NFL running back who strongly disagrees with the protests occurring during the national anthem. Former NFL stand-out Herschel Walker blamed NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for allowing protests during the national anthem to become routine occurrences during the 2017 season and potentially beyond. Walker said that he finds the protests “upsetting” and that they should have been stopped when they started. “I absolutely think the protests are so upsetting, and I blame the commissioner,” he said, according to the New York Post. “I know people are going to be angry when I say it, but he should have stopped the protests at the very beginning.” Walker said that if people want to protest they should do so in Washington, D.C. “Our flag is very special, and black lives matter, but what we should do is go to Washington after the season and protest there instead. We have young men and women fighting for the flag. And we have to respect the White House,” he added. Previously, Walker said that the NFL should make a rule that says players can only protest while “off the job.” >> On Rare.us: NFL players take a knee on Veterans Day weekend “I do, I think it means making a league-wide rule that if you want to protest, protest off the job. One of the things I want to say about the protests, where was everyone before the season started?” he asked. “I didn’t see anyone protesting in front of the White House, protesting in front of Congress or protesting in front of police officers. Why did we wait until football season started to start this again?”
  • One of the nation's largest domed stadiums is set for implosion.Nearly 5,000 pounds of explosives are on hand to blast the Georgia Dome in Atlanta to smithereens Monday at 7:30 a.m.If all goes well, the dome that opened in 1992 will be flattened within about 15 seconds. The Georgia World Congress Center Authority, which includes the 71,250-seat dome, says it should take 12 seconds for the explosives to go off plus another 3 seconds for sections of grandstands to be on the ground.The dome has been replaced by the $1.6 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium next door.A 5-story tall industrial strength curtain between the two stadiums is supposed to protect the new venue from damage, officials said. Only 83 feet — less than 30 yards — separates the two venues, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.The new stadium is home to the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer's Atlanta United.In addition to the retractable roof that opens like a camera lens, Mercedes-Benz Stadium boasts a 1,100-foot 'halo board' video display and a giant steel sculpture of a falcon with its 70-foot wingspan at one of the main entrances.Several streets and parts of Atlanta's transit system will close, police said, as many of the city's residents watch the blast against the early morning sky.The idea for the Georgia Dome dates to the mid-1980s, when civic leaders recommended a domed football stadium adjoining the city's largest convention center, the Georgia World Congress Center.The Georgia Dome has been the site of high school football state championships, Peach Bowls, SEC championship games, two Super Bowls, 1996 Olympic basketball, three Final Four NCAA basketball tournaments, concerts, pro wrestling and other events.