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Wire Fraud Charges Against KCMO EMT Sparks Union Response

A Kansas City (MO) Fire Department EMT is facing federal wire fraud charges stemming from a wellness incentive program gone awry.

The program, known as Points to Blue, was organized by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City as a way to get employees to adopt healthier life styles. Instead seven employees have been indicted, Blue Cross claims it has been defrauded by over $300,000, the investigation appears to have the potential to widen, and IAFF Local 42 is smoking mad.

The video does a good job of laying out the complex issues. It is actually quite a mess.

Here is a copy of the indictment. HealthInsuranceFraudIndictment

 

Comments - Add Yours

  • Andrew

    IF the facts as laid out in this story are true — and I don’t think Fox is above twisting the facts to screw public employees — the city employees involved should be terminated, charged, and punished appropriately if convicted.

    IF, on the other hand, this turns out to be (a) a sleazy city move to damage the union, (b) a sleazy move by the lying, thieving insurance company, or (c) a sleazy move by Fox to generate ratings and sow hatred for firefighters, THOSE entities should be held accountable.

    My bet is a combination of ‘b’ and ‘c’.

    I know a vast majority of public employees are conservative, and believe that Fox is “fair and balanced” but they don’t seem to realize that the drive to eliminate public employees is aimed at THEM. I cannot figure out why otherwise intelligent people support a news organization that wants to eliminate their jobs.

    And, of course, we all know that insurance companies are inherently honest and have only our well-being at heart, right?

    • http://firelawblog.com Curt Varone

      Andrew

      The wellness incentive program would seem to have been exceptionally poorly designed and managed. Seriously – the rules of the program were such that they had to be enforced by federal law enforcement agencies? Was that the plan? There was no internal verification program… no internal controls?

      I am not looking to excuse fraud… from all appearances blatant fraud by folks who cashed out thousands of dollars in false claims. That is inexcusable… but where do you draw the line. If I said I dropped 10 pounds but I only dropped 8… If I said I ran a 5k but only ran 2.5 k and walked 2.5….

      As bad as the fraud is – and it is bad… the folks who put this disaster together… as well as the managers who thought it was a good idea… have some explaining to do.

      If I leave a $100 bill under the windshield wiper of my car when I go to the mall… and it is gone when I come back, is the problem the dishonest people in the world? Should police departments drop what they are doing and starting looking for who took my $100?

      Again, I am not looking to excuse fraud – but personal responsibility goes both ways here. The person who steals my $100 has to accept personal responsibility for what they did and so do I for being such an idiot.

      • Andrew

        I think we’re saying pretty much the same thing, although you’re saying it much more coherently (not a surprise). The impression I got from the news clip is that BC/BS is trying to portray themselves as completely innocent victims of greedy firefighters, and totally blameless in this whole fiasco.

        With the exception of Charlie Leduff in Detroit, it seems that many Fox stations have jumped on the bandwagon of eliminating as much government as possible. One of the chosen ways is to cast public employees as lazy incompetents sucking at the public teat.

        I wouldn’t trust an insurance company as far as I could throw it’s building. And as for Fox, well, let’s just say they rank below used car salesmen, infomercials, bankers, politicians, insurance companies, Joe Isuzu, and weasels on my Trust-O-Meter.

        Both sides are at fault. Both sides need to be held accountable, not just the “lazy, greedy firemen.”

        • http://firelawblog.com Curt Varone

          Andrew

          You are alot more cynical that I am – and trust me I am cynical!!!!!

          But yes, we are saying the same thing – and I agree – Fox News tends to present the “news” with an anti-employee … and anti-public employee… vibe. They do it with alot of cunning, glitz and their trademark self-righteous anger… while ignoring facts that do not square with their world view.

  • AdmChesterMynutz

    I watched the report, and frankly didn’t get a “anti-employee, anti-public employee vibe based on cunning, glitz and trademark self-righteous anger”.

    US Attorney believes wire-fraud has occurred and as a result files indictment against seven individuals who happen to be public employees.

    The Union states the are also conducting an internal investigation to establish accountability on all levels.

    The City/Employer is cooperating fully.

    BCBS/Victim is cooperating.

    Where is the “vibe”.

    According to indictment, one defendant claimed he participated in three duathlons, three marathons, two half-marathons, an Olympic lifting competition and four triathlons within six month period.

    If I mistakenly drop my ID/wallet and you recover by accident, by your logic, I’m an idiot and you are under no obligation to return the money?

    Forget about your hypothetical hundred, lets say my $50,000.00 automobile was stolen from a high-crime neighborhood. I may be an idiot for taking car to high-crime neighborhood where there is high likelihood it would be stolen, but the problem is certainly with the dishonest person that knowing committed a crime by taking something to which they have no right or claim.

    The Fox station is St. Louis uses investigative reporter Charles Jaco daily. With all due respect to Charlie Leduff in Detroit, I have never heard Charles Jaco, Fox New St. Louis, being accused of reporting cunning, glitz and their trademark self-righteous anger… while ignoring facts that do not square with their world view.

    • http://firelawblog.com Curt Varone

      AdmChesterMynutz

      OK then… wow… looks like Andrew and I struck a nerve. I take it you are Fox News fan.

      First of all my comments about the anti employee vibe were about Fox News in general, not the particular news cast you are referring to you. You are correct – and I agree with you – the KC story does not have the vibe I was talking about. I did not say it did. My comment was referring to the parent Fox News cable station.

      As for whether I am right or wrong about the vibe, I will argue that one with you all day every day because its true. Fox is conservative, anti-employee, and anti-union. They are pro gun, so I’ll tip my hat to them there. The bottom line is I don’t trust their news IN GENERAL. It is too polarized. They are not alone. I don’t trust liberal polarized news either.

      My point about the KC story is that someone who organizes a contest with absolutely no controls, has to bear some responsibility for what happens when the foreseeable happens… ALONG WITH THE PERPETRATORS. The perpetrators do not get a free pass from me. I said it twice above and I’ll say it again here for the sake of clarity. The perpetrators are responsible for their crimes.

      Now… if you are a pro Fox conservative … how about this take: Why should the Federal Government have to come bail out a big business like Blue Cross from their own mistake… In fact, I resent that my tax money is being wasted on an investigation and prosecution that should never have been necessary in the first place. If Blue Cross had put enough internal controls on their poorly conceived program – this entire investigation could have been avoided.

      Gee… as a matter of fact, why didn’t the Fox affiliate take that tact on this case? The investigation and prosecution had to have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars – probably at least as much as the $300,000 that Blue Cross lost. I know Fox hates big government (which they blame the liberals for) and hates unnecessary expenditures of taxpayer funds (which they blame the liberals for as well). Why not explore the waste of taxpayer funds angle against Blue Cross?

      I wonder if Blue Cross ever buys advertisements on TV? Nah. That can’t be it.

      Let’s look at your “correction” to my hypo… I take my $64,000 BMW down to a crime ridden area, leave the keys in it and someone steals it. So what is your point? The person who steals it should be punished. So should the person who takes the $100 bill from my windshield in my hypo. We agree.

      But here is where we disagree. There is another part of the equation: Do I have a right to walk into the closest police station and demand that they stop investigating other crimes – drop what they are doing – and find the guy who took my $64,000 BMW? Is it fair for me to expect that the local tax payers will fund enough police resources to have officers available to go out and find my BMW? What about the FBI? Am I within my rights to demand that the FBI be brought in to find my $64,000 BMW? After all, it is imported!

      Isn’t that what Blue Cross in KC did? They create a colossally foolish incentive program and when people (God-forbid) cheated – Blue Cross had the Feds initiate a major criminal investigation. They couldn’t make a regular fraud case (probably because of jurisdictional issues) so they did what they could: charged them with wire fraud.

      So who is for big government and higher taxes in this one? I’d say I am arguing the conservative agenda and you are arguing the liberal agenda. I say big business ought to use more sense when it creates these kinds of contests and not expect taxpayers to bail them out by conducting these extraordinarily expensive investigations.

      You are arguing we need to have enough police officers, courts, probation officers and jails out there to investigate, arrest and prosecute people who would steal $100 bills off of some idiot’s windshield.

      • Andrew

        BTW, Chief, my wife is from Ann Arbor, and told me that if I am warming up the car on a cold day and it is stolen, not only does the car thief get arrested (assuming he’s ever caught), but *I* also get a summons for leaving an unattended vehicle (or words to that effect). Apparently, warming up my car is the same type of attractive nuisance as an unfenced swimming pool or a nice mutli-level commercial plaza to the skateboarders. I also heard reports on WWJ Radio (Detroit) that seem to imply the same.

        • http://firelawblog.com Curt Varone

          Interesting – I never heard of a charge like that, but it makes alot of sense.

          • Andrew

            Of course, it WAS greater(?) Detroit… where the politics make Chicago look honest.

            And that law applied even if the car was in my driveway. Didn’t even have to be on the street.

            Oh, and I get summoned even if the car isn’t recovered (or the thief apprehended).

      • AdmChesterMynutz

        I’m just a dude that reads FireLaw because I find it interesting. Did you “strike a nerve”? I guess you did.

        Andrew stated that local Fox affiliates across the country were becoming as partisan in their reporting as the cable network, with the exception of the Fox affiliate were he lives. You agreed without drawing the national/local distinction as in your response. I live in St. Louis and provided evidence that in St. Louis, the Fox affiliate nothing like the network.

        I’m not arguing any partisan agenda. Unfortunate having a reasonable discussion is nearly without discrediting the information as being disingenuous.

        I have been “Cable Free Since 93″ and don’t have much interest in the partisan linguistics contortions of Fox/MSNBC shill-o-thon.

        I made no reference to law enforcement dropping everything to completely investigate every crime. I had a repairman steal about $1,000 of jewelry. Did I expect them to drop everything? No, but I did expect them to come to my house so that I may file a police report? You betcha. They did. Turned the info to prosecuting attorney who then decided the case wasn’t worth taking to trial given the resources of the office. If it was $300,000.00, that may have been worth getting an indictment.

        Andrew. I am not Chief of anything. Sorry to hear that in Ann Arbor it has become a crime to warm your car.

        • http://firelawblog.com Curt Varone

          Thanks AdmChesterMynutz

          Sounds like we are in agreement… I’ve been told I sometimes make it hard for people to agree with me… not sure if it is the FF or lawyer in me.

          FYI – I believe Andrew was referring to me when he said Chief.

          BTW – where is that name from?

        • Andrew

          Chester, I don’t live in Detroit, and their Fox station is every bit as anti-big-government as the rest of the network, but Leduff is a firm supporter of the FD and is constantly rooting out more and more shenanigans from the bosses. The Fox station where I live is completely insane, which is why their ratings are usually below those of the Home Shopping Network.

          Like Chief Varone, I am not saying that each and every reporter, on each and every story, has a political agenda. I *AM* saying that, overall, Rupert Murdock’s media empire has such an agenda (just as CNN and MSNBC do).

          And saying that “I have never heard … ” is hardly “provid[ing] evidence” in that I could say just as easily that mis-identifying Republicans as Democrats when they do something stupid — which has happened numerous times — proves they DO have an agenda.