Audit: Michigan mental health agency CEO misspent $19M
Battle Creek – The former CEO of a Michigan community mental health agency who went to prison two years ago misspent more than $19 million on lavish benefits, parties and side projects, according to an audit.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services examined records from the seven years Erv Brinker spent as CEO of Summit Pointe Community Mental Health in Battle Creek. Brinker was fired in 2015. He pleaded guilty to embezzlement and Medicaid fraud in 2016 and was sentenced to more than 2.5 years in prison. He was released last month.
The audit showed that Brinker’s purchases included more than $500,000 on psychic services, nearly $87,000 on travel, $65,000 in gifts and $830 on a bobcat costume, WWMT-TV reported . He also amended employee benefit packages without board approval, the report found.
More than $1 million in Medicaid contracts were billed for expenses related to snow removal, a skate park and a virtual school, the audit found. There was also more than $2.5 million in expenditures that weren’t supported by receipts or invoices.
The report includes a corrective action plan, which includes corrective actions that Summit Point has already taken and recommendations for what the state can do to prevent similar cases from happening.
State officials have ordered Summit Pointe repay almost $18 million, The Battle Creek Enquirer reported . The mental health provider plans to appeal some of the findings.
Summit Pointe’s new CEO, Jeannie Goodrich, said the report “represents past practices.” She said the work and services the agency has provided since 2015 illustrate their values.
The state attorney general’s office is reviewing the health department’s investigation, according to a spokeswoman for the office.