The state of Oregon has charged an employee and instructor at Oregon Health and Science University with defrauding Medicaid and evading income taxes.
A secret indictment (PDF) against Dean Howard Westwood, 48, alleges he defrauded Medicaid, the federal insurance program for low-income Americans, of at least $81,000 in payments while he lived in a luxury condo and owned a speedboat.
OHSU's website lists Westwood as a disability trainer and community outreach specialist at OHSU's Affirmative Action & Equal Opportunity Office, and is an instructor in the school's Department of Public Health and Preventative Medicine.
The indictment lists 47 charges against Westwood, including making false claims for health care payments, theft, unlawfully obtaining public assistance and income tax evasion.
Westwood has not responded to WW's requests for an interview. OHSU officials have not commented on the charges. The indictment does not allege Westwood's actions involve his work at OHSU.
An affidavit filed by the Oregon Department of Justice in Multnomah County Circuit Court say Westwood earned $9,000 a month, frequented Oregon Ducks games and traveled and stayed in luxury hotels. The documents also allege Westwood told state caseworkers he lived in poverty, when in fact Westwood actually failed to file Oregon income tax returns between 2009 and 2011 despite what the state calls "significant earnings."
Medicaid is available to people who earn no more than 250 percent of the federal poverty line, according to the court documents.
Between March 2009 and March 2013, prosecutors say that Dean Westwood and Medicaid-paid home care provider and Westwood's niece, Trista Westwood, committed fraud by submitting false bi-monthly vouchers for work that Trista Westwood did not do. The two shared those payments, writes Melissa Chureau, a Senior State Assistant Attorney General temporarily assigned to the Multnomah County District Attorney's office.
Along with the direct Medicaid payments, Westwood also allegedly benefited from tens of thousands of Medicaid-funded medical coverage, the affidavit says.
Chureau writes that Westwood's house was under 24-hour surveillance. Footage of Westwood's home shows his niece, Trista Westwood, actually only visited his house no more than four times in a five month period between September 2012 and February 2013.
Update 1 pm, June 13: Westwood was given his newest position in February, despite criminal charges from 2007, where he was accused of drunkenly ramming several Rose Garden security staff with his wheelchair.
A police report from Jan. 24, 2007, alleges that Westwood—a Blazers season ticket holder—was intoxicated and refusing to leave the arena. Accounts show that Westwood allegedly struck at least two security guards and also repeatedly moved his motorized chair within inches of the ankles of a Portland Police sergeant who responded to the scene.
The police report shows that Westwood was near the Lexus Club Level during a Portland vs. Minnesota and wouldn't show security staff his tickets, and began shouting when they asked him to leave.
Security staff says he grew violent and began hitting them with his chair. At least two people were hit, the report shows. Police write that Westwood allegedly backed his chair into security supervisor Shana Anderson and hit her with his elbows.
"The guest continued to move his chair, using it as a battering ram in to (another guard) and myself," Anderson writes. "I has (sic) struck in the legs at least 5 times."
Sgt. Richard Stainbrook, who met the security guards, says Westwood kept scooting his chair to "within inches of my ankles" and kept doing so as Stainbrook backed away. Another officer also reported that Westwood mentioned calling former mayor and police chief Tom Potter in front of the cops.
"Westwood then got on his cell phone and I could hear him asking someone to... 'Call Tom Potter for me,'" Officer Julian Carroll, the second officer to respond, writes in his report. "He mentioned this about three times and said it very loud so that I could hear."
Police handcuffed Westbrook and cited him for misdemeanor harassment and criminal trespass. In Februrary 2007, he was acquitted of harassment and convicted for criminal trespass.
It's unclear if OHSU was aware of Westwood's criminal charges when they appointed him to his new position in February this year. An OHSU newsletter, Diversity News, had this to say about Westwood that month:
Dean works with various frontline service groups at OHSU to enhance services to diverse disability communities. Through the trainings, he hopes to develop awareness among employees about essential communication skills to effectively serve people with disabilities. During the training, Dean addresses the many faces of disability, thus stressing the importance of focusing on the “person first” in a respectful and dignified manner.
“We serve many diverse populations at OHSU, and we are well on our way toward changing the conversation and perception of disability to a truly diverse perspective,” says Dean. “A ‘person-first’ perspective focuses on the person, not on the pathology."