ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

clear-night
50°
Sunny
H 64° L 39°
  • clear-night
    50°
    Current Conditions
    Sunny. H 64° L 39°
  • clear-day
    64°
    Today
    Sunny. H 64° L 39°
  • clear-day
    68°
    Tomorrow
    Sunny. H 68° L 42°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb news on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Crime & Law
Narconon under investigation again
Close

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

Read More

News

  • A paraprofessional in a Texas school district was fired from a high school after she was accused of sending sexually explicit photos and videos of herself by Snapchat to a 15-year-old student, the Houston Chronicle reported. >> Read more trending news  According to court records, Kelsie Rochelle Koepke, 25, of Katy, allegedly sent nude photos of herself to the student at Paetow High School, where she worked, through the Snapchat application, the newspaper reported. Koepke was charged with improper relationship with a student, a second-degree felony, and solicitation of a minor, according to the Chronicle. She was released on a $15,000 bond, the newspaper reported. According to court documents, Koepke exchanged Snapchat information with the student around October 2017, and began a chat relationship with him, KTRK reported. Koepke used the nicknames 'kelsie_koepke' and 'Momma K,' the television station reported, citing court documents. The conversations allegedly turned sexual in nature, and “she instructed him not to save any of their chats,' according to court documents. Koepke then allegedly sent the first set of nude photos and videos of herself on homecoming night, KTRK reported. Koepke told investigators she thought she was sending the nude photos to someone else, the Chronicle reported. When she found out she was sending the photos to a student, she said she did not delete him from Snapchat because she wanted to “keep the peace,” the newspaper reported, citing court records. The student allegedly receiving the photos and videos reported what happened to school officials on Feb. 28, KTRK reported. Paetow High School Principal Mindy Dickerson sent a letter out to parents advising them of the situation, the Chronicle reported.
  • If you enjoy viral posts, a “Little Mermaid”-themed hairdo of a girl who attends a Houston preschool is part of your world.  >> Read more trending news  Atlantis Castillo sported braided hair to resemble the ponytail of Ariel, the main character in the Disney movie classic, “The Little Mermaid,” KTRK reported. It was part of a crazy hair day theme at Clear Lake United Methodist Church’s preschool, the television station reported. Ariel Romero posted photos of her younger sister’s hairstyle on Twitter, and they created a wave of positive reaction on social media. “My sister had crazy hair day at school today and my mom was not playing games and really wanted her to win,” Romero tweeted Tuesday. The hairstyle featured a bright green-colored braid that looked like a mermaid tail, topped by an Ariel doll on Atlantis’ head that resembled a hair pick. The hairstyle was created by Atlantis’ mother, KHOU reported. “My mom did the mermaid because my name is Ariel and my sister is Atlantis which is where Ariel lives under the sea,” Romero tweeted. “We’ve grown up loving mermaids thanks to my parents.” 
  • City Council members in San Antonio approved a concession agreement at the city’s airport that will exclude Chick-fil-A, KSAT reported. >> Read more trending news  By a 6-4 vote, the council approved the Food, Beverage and Retail Prime Concession Agreement with Paradies Lagardère at the San Antonio International Airport. The motion to exclude the Atlanta-based chicken chain from the airport was brought to the floor by council member Roberto Treviño, WOAI reported. Chick-fil-A has a history of donating to anti-LGBTQ organizations, and the city’s vote was applauded by the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio, a local LGBTQ political action committee, KSAT reported. “The LGBTQ community is excited that the City Council has decided to look for restaurants that support all Americans in our airport,” Chris Forbrich, a co-chairman of the organization, told the television station. Treviño released a statement Friday, saying the decision “reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion.” “San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior,” Treviño said. 'Everyone has a place here, and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport. I look forward to the announcement of a suitable replacement by Paradies.” Chick-fil-A released a statement, calling the action “disappointing.” “This is the first we’ve heard of this. It’s disappointing. We would have liked to have had a dialogue with the city council before this decision was made,” the company said in its statement. “We agree with Council member Treviño that everyone is and should feel welcome at Chick-fil-A. We plan to reach out to the city council to gain a better understanding of this decision.”
  • The U.S. Coast Guard offloaded more than 27,000 pounds of cocaine in Miami Beach that was seized in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. >> Read more trending news  'It will all be offloaded by the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa today in Miami Beach Florida and sent for destruction,' the Coast Guard said in a Facebook post.  The Coast Guard said in a news release that the drugs are worth an estimated $360 million. The cocaine was seized in 12 separate operations off the coasts of Mexico, Central America and South America during a three-month period.  Using #notonourstreets, the Coast Guard posted video on Facebook of the seizure, saying, “Here’s what 27,000 lbs. of cocaine looks like.”  'It takes a collaborative and sophisticated network to defeat a criminal network,' Deputy Commandant for Operations VADM Daniel Abel said in a news conference. The news release also stated: 'The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement along with allied and international partner agencies play a role in counter-drug operations.  The cutter Tampa even participated in the first joint boarding in recent memory between the United States and Ecuador. The fight against transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific and the Caribbean Basin requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring, and interdictions, to prosecutions by U.S. Attorneys in Florida, California, New York, the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere.
  • The Georgia mother of a teen who recently overdosed after vaping THC wax is speaking out, hoping other kids and parents become aware of the danger. THC is the active ingredient in cannabis. >> Read more trending news Lacey Turner, of Butts County, wants to spare other parents the anguish that she and her son Bailey went through. Turner told WSB-TV her son could barely keep his eyes open and his blood pressure was dangerously low at the time of the incident. “When I pulled up to the school, they were loading Bailey on the ambulance,' Turner said. Turner described the harrowing day in January when paramedics rushed her 16-year-old son to the hospital. She said he collapsed after taking a single hit of THC vaping wax, provided by a friend, in the high school cafeteria. 'He continued to vomit in the bathroom and passed out until someone came in and found him,” Turner said. After arriving at the hospital emergency room, the teen was still unconscious and had an extremely fast heartbeat and low blood pressure. 'Cognitively, he was completely disassociated. You pretty much had to slap him and get him to open his eyes,' Turner said. Turner, a nurse, first thought her son had overdosed on opioids, and so did the emergency room doctors. They administered an overdose reversing drug. “They gave him a shot of Narcan -- absolutely no change,' Turner said. Urine and blood tests told another story. “He was negative for anything in his system, except THC,' Turner said. Schools in metro Atlanta have reported students falling ill after vaping THC or synthetic THC. Turner believes the high potency is the problem. “This form of marijuana can be 85 to 90 percent concentrated with THC,” Turner said. The mother is thankful her son has fully recovered, but thoughts of what could have happened still haunt her. “My son could have passed out there in the bathroom, hit his head on the toilet on the way down and died of blunt force trauma,” Turner said. Turner said that when she posted her son's story on Facebook, she got responses from kids and parents across the country who had had the same experience.
  • A Florida man is facing child sex abuse charges after officials said he paid over $800 on an Uber to bring a teenage girl to Apopka. >> Read more trending news Police said 25-year-old Richard Brown raped the 17-year-old girl in his parents' home over the course of several days. The two met over Instagram after he told the victim that he was a 19-year-old Instagram celebrity and that he would 'take care of her.' The victim told Apopka police that Brown paid for an Uber to drive her from San Antonio, Texas, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In Louisiana, she got into another Uber that dropped her off in Apopka on Sunday. Brown would later show police receipts showing the second part of the trip that amounted to over $800. According to arrest documents, Brown told police he was 'only friends' with the victim and thought that she was of age and 'in need of a place to stay.' One neighbor couldn't believe the accusations. 'You might never know about it and now the cops are here,' said Amanda Trail. 'That's crazy for the parents.' The victim said once she realized Brown wasn't 19 or 'Instagram famous' that she wanted to go home. Brown then allegedly told her, 'no you owe me now for bringing you all the way here.' She later told officials that she escaped on Wednesday when Brown fell asleep and while she was on Snapchat with her mother. Police would locate her near Ustler and Wekiwa Preserve Drive, but said she wasn't able to point out which home belonged to the victim or what his name was on social media.  Brown's attorney took issue with the story, citing 'several inconsistencies.' Brown faces six felony counts of child sex abuse.