}

Friday, February 28, 2014

SHIP4CHARITIES OR SHIP OF FOOLS: Chris Paganes Facing "Cause Of Action"; Bankruptcy Trustee Investigating Potentially Fraudulent Pre-Bankruptcy Asset Transfers

Chris Paganes
BUSINESS PARTNER OF BATTLE CREEK'S ROBERT BUCKHANNON FACING FRAUDULENT TRANSFER "AVOIDANCE ACTION"

TRUSTEE INVESTIGATING BANKING ACTIVITY IN COMPANY CONTROLLED BY PAGANES, FORMER HEDGE FUND PARTNER RICHARD MITTASCH

Miss Fortune has learned that Chris Paganes, disgraced former investment adviser and hedge fund crony of Battle Creek's "crooked chiropractor" Robert Buckhannon, is facing an investigation regarding asset transfers that occurred during his pre-bankruptcy "reach back" period.  In an official "individual estate property record and report" for 2013, Paganes' bankruptcy trustee notes she is "investigating assets including a possible chapter 5 cause of action".

Paganes' official bankruptcy records indicate the trustee is focusing on the 2010 banking activity of Paganes' Michigan-based MFG Holding Company, L.L.C, including "all items presented for deposit into and wire transfers out of the entity's Chase Bank account".
Transfers of money during the period immediately prior to filing  bankruptcy may be deemed fraudulent or preferential and subject to an avoidance (or unwinding) under the Michigan Bankruptcy Code.

CLAWING BACK FROM MICHIGAN TO LONG ISLAND: MFG HOLDING COMPANY, L. L. C.

But Miss Fortune has discovered documents that link Paganes' Michigan-based MFG Holding Company, L.L.C with a "foreign limited liability company" created on July 10, 2008 in New York by Long Island resident Richard Mittasch, one of Paganes' former hedge fund partners.

And the New York company's name? Why, it's MFG Holding Company, L.L.C.

Although Paganes formed his Michigan-based company back on February 28, 1996, there were no annual statements filed after 1998...until twelve documents--including a certificate of restoration and the delinquent annual statements--were filed on June 30, 2008.

Less than two weeks later, on July 10, 2008, Richard Mittasch filed paperwork with New York to form MFG Holding Company, L.L.C. as a "foreign limited liability company" with a Mineola, New York address.

Mittasch, a former registered securities broker now permanently barred, was affiliated with the Maximum Financial Investment Group Inc., a broker-dealer formerly registered with the SEC. Maximum served as trustee for the Robert Buckhannon's Vestium hedge fund and provided various broker-dealer services forBuckhannon's Arcanum hedge fund until the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ('FINRA') expelled Maximum for anti-money laundering and net capital rule violations.

In case you're wondering, Maximum was a Michigan-based company formed by Chris Paganes. He was CEO of Maximum, but was permanently barred by FINRA "from serving in any principal capacity at a securities firm and suspended him from associating with any securities firm for nine months based on his conduct while he was Maximum's chief compliance officer."

In August 2008, Mittasch created Imperium Investment Advisors, with Paganes as one of the three managing members along with Glenn Barikmo. 

Imperium replaced Maximum as Vestium's trustee in October 2008--same suit, different day.

Regular readers of this blog likely know what transpired next, but let's roll the video tape!

The crash of the Vestium and Arcanum hedge funds happened when a crooked chiropractor, six cronies, and an investment firm duped investors out of $34 million by bankrupting two hedge funds and skimming more than $16 million off the top. SEC complaints stated that the men "looted and bankrupted the hedge funds by steering millions of dollars to themselves." 

And the investment firm that helped make that happen was run by--you guessed it--Chris Paganes and Richard Mittasch.

AND YOU WONDERED WHAT PAGANES WAS LIVING ON? 

Certainly not the suspect Ship4Charities, Paganes' two-bit "shipping logistics company" that purports to donate "to charity on every package shipped".

Miss Fortune encourages Chris Paganes' bankruptcy trustee to dig into the Shea Mining & Milling shell game--I hear that Blair Mielke, Richard Mittasch's partner in the Harvest Midwest Group, could be sitting on $4 million in Standard Gold OTC stock.

Not a bad return for a company that began its life in the British Virgin Islands--courtesy of Robert Buckhannon--as Shea Mining & Milling.

And if you don't believe Miss Fortune, ask Buckhannon to tell you about the Privatbank IHAG Z├╝rich account he held offshore for his Arcanum hedge fund. 

Oh, wait, I just did!

The British Virgin Islands--a sunny place for shady people.

This story is heating up again!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"BELLES WITH BALLS" UPDATE: Miss Fortune Reveals Pattern of Inflated Staff Credentials at Per Wickstrom's 'A Forever Recovery'

Miss Fortune loves her some bubblesespecially when they burst.

After reviewing my notes from yesterday's story, "Belles With Balls", I realized I missed an even better story just waiting to be told.

What could be better than a story about a convicted embezzler, a felon who walked out of her jail cell into a job as a Case Manager at Per Wickstrom's A Forever Recovery?

How about a story about a convicted embezzler who walked out of her jail cell into a job as a Case Manager--and inflated her qualifications?

Interested? I thought you might be.

Until A Forever Recovery changed her page on its website in early February, our "Belle" was listed as a "Substance Abuse Treatment Practitioner" and her name was accompanied by the letters "BA, DP-C".

Nearly everyone knows that "BA" stands for Bachelor of Arts, but few of us know that "DP-C" means "development plan for counseling". In order to be certified as a drug and alcohol treatment counselor here in Michigan, an applicant must meet certain qualifications. If a applicant for certification currently does not meet the qualifications, he or she must complete and submit a formal Development Plan to show they are making reasonable progress toward becoming certified with the Michigan Certification Board for Addiction Professionals (MCBAP). 

And guess what? Anyone can confirm a counselor's status online at the MCBAP's website, whether they claim to be certified or have an approved development plan registered with MCBAP.

So why claim something that can easily be refuted? If I could answer that, I probably be living in the Sea Cliff neighborhood of San Francisco!

When a truffle hunter finds an elusive tuber, that hunter doesn't take his truffle hog home. So your girl Miss Fortune kept digging.

Of the seven staffers listed on the A Forever Recovery site with the "DP-C" designation, only two actually had plans that were officially registered with MCBAP. 

And one of the two staffers officially registered with the DP-C designation was described by A Forever Recovery as a "Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor from Michigan Certification Board for Addiction Professionals"—clearly false and misleading.

But A Forever Recovery's not completely false..it is 28 percent correct!

Your girl Miss Fortune wonders how many other truffles her surgically altered nose will sniff out.

Monday, February 24, 2014

"BELLES WITH BALLS": How A Convicted Embezzler Bounced From Her Michigan Jail Cell Right Into A Case Manager Slot At Per Wickstrom's 'A Forever Recovery'


Call them cojones, huevos or balls, my first “Belle With Balls” clearly demonstrates the audacious chutzpah required to inaugurate Miss Fortune’s new series.

 In late 2012, this Belle plead guilty and went to jail in Jackson County, Michigan, for embezzling nearly $15,000 from a parent group supporting sport programs and athletes at a area school. Jackson County Circuit Judge Thomas Wilson sentenced this Belle With Balls to 300 days in jail and five years probation, although she served less than eight months and was released on August 8, 2013.

And on August 26, 2013, with no experience in substance abuse treatment and hardly enough time to wash the stink of jailhouse bologna from her hair, our Belle started working at Per Wickstrom's A Forever Recovery.

WHAT'S A FEW THOUSAND MISSING DOLLARS AMONG FRIENDS?

Actual mugshot (altered)
Miss Fortune is not using her real name and has altered her mugshot (can you believe she was smiling!), but believe you me this Belle is as real as an elusive package of Cookie Dough Oreos!

Our Belle was a keen multi-tasker, serving both as treasurer and president of the booster club board.  In fact, she loved her time at the trough so much she even altered the booster club’s constitution so she could not be voted from either position!

After assuming her dual duties at the booster club, our Belle quickly realized there were no checks and balances, and began writing checks that left virtually no bank balances. 

In fact, Assistant Jackson County Prosecutor Nick Mehalco Jr. described her scheme as a “long, systematic pilfering of monies.” The judge who sentenced our Belle called her offense “appalling.”
   
Our Belle’s name went on the club bank accounts in April 2011 and by June 2011 she began writing checks to herself—using the organization’s money to cruise and shop at various mall stores, stoke herself with sacks full of fine cuisine from local Taco Bell and Wendy’s fast food restaurants, and fuel her car at local gas stations.

Entrusted with the students’ best interests, our Belle instead considered her own best interests.

Drop the chalupa, sister, you’re busted!


AFTER A FINANCIAL FUMBLE, A FOREVER RECOVERY?

Yes, the woman who told Judge Wilson during her sentencing hearing that she was “truly sorry” for what she did and “never meant to hurt anyone, especially any children,” is now working as a Case Manager at Per Wickstrom’s A Forever Recovery.

So is she typical of what A Forever Recovery describes on its website as "the best staff in the county"? On its website, A Forever Recovery describes itself as a treatment facility that "provides a completely unique recovery environment. The Center brings together many different types of counselors and other licensed professionals, and focuses on guiding clients into finding the recovery base that is best for them.”

Let's see how this "bestie" describes herself in a link that was updated on February 7:

I am a Belle With Balls (not her real name!), and a Case Manager at A Forever Recovery.  I am married to the love of my life and we have four children, ages 16, 14, 12, and 3. I have done a lot of volunteering throughout our older children’s education. In doing this I found my passion in helping others achieve their goals. Here at A Forever Recovery I facilitate groups at our withdrawal center. I enjoy being one of the first people that our clients meet as they begin their stay with us. In doing this I have a unique opportunity to see each and every one of our client’s grow and change throughout their stay. I have my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. I am beginning to work on my Master’s in Mental Health Counseling. Though I have never struggled with addiction myself, I have been the support system for some of my loved ones through their addiction.  This role and my own life experiences have given me an insight into the addiction process.  With this knowledge I discovered the desire to help others find the path to sobriety.

Funny, I didn't see any reference to her "superior financial management skills" or "ability to look superfine in an orange jumpsuit".

A previous description had our Belle as a "Group Therapy Facilitator" (that must have been one helluva group!), and if you read closely you'll notice that only the title is different:

I am a Belle With Balls, and a Group Therapy Facilitator at A Forever Recovery.  I am married to the love of my life and we have four children, ages 16, 14, 12, and 3. I have done a lot of volunteering throughout our older children’s education. In doing this I found my passion in helping others achieve their goals. Here at A Forever Recovery I facilitate groups at our withdrawal center. I enjoy being one of the first people that our clients meet as they begin their stay with us. In doing this I have a unique opportunity to see each and every one of our client’s grow and change throughout their stay. I have my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. I am beginning to work on my Master’s in Mental Health Counseling. Though I have never struggled with addiction myself, I have been the support system for some of my loved ones through their addiction.  This role and my own life experiences have given me an insight into the addiction process.  With this knowledge I discovered the desire to help others find the path to sobriety.

So is she one of Per Wickstrom's sister Pamela Anderson (not the hot one) calls "caring, qualified and certified experts who can help them make it through a very difficult time" or is she just another Belle With Balls?

Miss Fortune would vote for "balls", but I don't want to give them a bad name. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

FORMER 'A FOREVER RECOVERY' STAFFER MICHAEL DAUNORA TRIAL SCHEDULED: Daytime Burglary Suspect Faces 6-20 Years If Convicted

Daunora
Former A Forever Recovery employee Michael Daunora, shown at left in a Porter County, Indiana mugshot, is finally going to have his day in court.

Daunora's jury trial is scheduled to begin March 24 at 1:00pm at the Porter County courthouse in Valparaiso, Indiana. Daunora's final pre-trial conference is set for next Friday, February 28, at 9:00am.





On October 13, 2013, Joshua Scott called Valparaiso police to report someone breaking into his home. Police found two flatscreen televisions in Scott's backyard, and collected information on two possible suspects.

Travis Talley, Porter County mugshot
After a search of the area, officers located Daunora and Travis Talley, both of Valparaiso, and arrested them on charges of Class B felony burglary. Talley was also charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

Officers processing the burglary scene reportedly noted a strong odor of marijuana in the house on West Street and saw assorted drug paraphernalia. After getting a search warrant, they found more than 2.5 pounds of marijuana and approximately $10,000 in cash in the house, according to the police report. Scott had more marijuana in his vehicle, police said at the time.

Joshua Scott, Porter County mugshot
Scott was arrested on two Class D felony charges — dealing marijuana and maintaining a common nuisance, and for misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. Scott, who on December 17, 2013 violated a condition of his pre-trial release, is currently in custody awaiting his March 24 jury trial.








Miss Fortune has followed Daunora's story, writing about his journey from court-ordered "student" in April through his arrest in October.

In my November 4 post, I revealed that although A Forever Recovery's Per Wickstrom maintained publicly during a June 17, 2013 Wright Township Planning Commission meeting that "graduates of the rehab program must return to their community and remain sober for 90 days before they can apply to BDR for employment", that so-called "restriction" apparently didn't apply to A Forever Recovery and Daunora.

In addition, official Wright Township Planning Commission meeting minutes indicate Wickstrom asserted that while there could possibly be residents who are there in lieu of jail time "BDR does not knowingly accept court-ordered residents or sex offenders".

Michael Daunora's case appears to show those statements by Wickstrom omitted important information about the business practices at his rehabilitation facilities.


According to his official Porter County Superior Court records, Daunora's March 28, 2013 sentencing order for a case that included possession of a controlled substance without a prescription (generic Xanax) stated he would be allowed to "travel to inpatient treatment". While in jail, Daunora completed a chemical dependency and addiction program offered to Porter County jail inmates by Valparaiso-based Porter Starke Services.

On April 4, 2013, Daunora's travel permit was granted, and shortly after he entered A Forever Recovery in Battle Creek for inpatient treatment.

In May 2013, Daunora's probation was officially transferred to Michigan.

And on June 20, 2013, Daunora updated his Facebook page to reflect his status as an "employee" of A Forever Recovery.


Miss Fortune will continue to follow this case, and bring you more news as soon as it breaks.


Monday, February 17, 2014

STOPADDICTION.COM: Newest Per Wickstrom Promotional Video Refers Viewers To Narconon For "The Truth"!

www.stopaddiction.com screen capture
An eagle-eyed tipster, who read my earlier post "Per Wickstrom Comes Out" via a link on Reaching for the Tipping Point, reveals that www.stopaddiction.com, one of the informational websites Wickstrom provided in the video, is actually a Narconon referral site.

A WHOIS database reveals this site description:

Rehab - Rehab Center - Narconon Arrowhead
Holistic, drug - free, non - traditional drug rehab and alcohol rehab. Over 70% success rate with addiction treatment. 

Narconon Arrowhead is located in a beautiful state park on a lake 

Administrator for the site, registered on December 13, 1999, is Narconon Arrowhead's Senior Director of Marketing, Derry Hallmark.


Domain Name: STOPADDICTION.COM
Registry Domain ID:
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.networksolutions.com
Registrar URL: http://www.networksolutions.com/en_US/
Updated Date: 2006-11-04T00:00:00Z
Creation Date: 1999-12-13T00:00:00Z
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2015-12-13T00:00:00Z
Registrar: NETWORK SOLUTIONS, LLC.
Registrar IANA ID: 2
Registrar Abuse Contact Email: abuse@web.com

Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: 800-333-7680
Reseller:
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited
Registry
Registrant ID:
Registrant Name: Narconon
Registrant Organization: Narconon
Registrant Street: 1000 W. Judo Rd.
Registrant City: Newkirk
Registrant State/Province: OK
Registrant Postal Code: 74647
Registrant Country: US
Registrant Phone: (800) 468-6933
Registrant Phone Ext:
Registrant Fax: 999 999 9999
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email: newlife001@EARTHLINK.NET

Registry Admin ID:
Admin Name: Hallmark, Derry
Admin Organization: Narconon of Oklahoma
Admin Street: HC 67 Box 5
Admin City: Canadian
Admin State/Province: OK
Admin Postal Code: 74425
Admin Country: US
Admin Phone: 918-339-5800
Admin Phone Ext:
Admin Fax: 999 999 9999
Admin Fax Ext:
Admin Email: info@stopaddiction.com

Registry Tech ID:
Tech Name:
Tech Organization: EarthLink Network, Inc.
Tech Street: 1375 Peachtree Street
Tech City: Atlanta
Tech State/Province: GA

Tech Postal Code: 30309
Tech Country: US
Tech Phone: 404-815-0700
Tech Phone Ext:
Tech Fax: - - 626-296-5113
Tech Fax Ext:
Tech Email: linkthepage@yahoo.com

Name Server: ns1.addiction2.com
Name Server: ns2.addiction2.com
DNSSEC: not signed
URL of the ICANN WHOIS Data Problem Reporting System: http://wdprs.internic.net/
>>> Last update of whois database: Mon, 17 Feb 2014 18:31:13 UTC

Domain Status:
clientTransferProhibited


#END#
 
Hey, maybe they have call forwarding!

COMPLETE VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Note: Video as reviewed uploaded to YouTube January 8, 2014

Per Wickstrom Ingrid Kelley video transcript: as of February 16, 2014 5:30 PM

Ingrid Kelley (IK):

Hello, everyone. I’m Ingrid Kelley and thank you for joining us. Today, we are exploring the issue of substance abuse and the steps one can take to overcome this illness.

Joining me now with much more is Per Wickstrom. He is the founder of Best Drug Rehabilitation. Thank you so much for being here.

Per Wickstrom (PW):

Thank you for having me, Ingrid. It’s a pleasure, as always, to come and educate people on substance abuse.

IK:

OK. How long have you been in the business of helping people overcome substance abuse?

PW:

In 2002, I bought my first center. So actually you can (unintelligible) say when did I really get in the substance abuse busines? I started the company February 2nd of 2003; we actually had our first client come through the doors.

IK:

So what motivated you to actually own and operate your own business?

PW:

You know, that’s a real tough question because motivation comes from many different aspects in life. And I would say that when I went back into the car/automobile business, it wasn’t satisfying. We had the same things that we have and it changed because I had changed going through rehabilitation.

IK:

And why are you succeeding in an industry where most people are actually failing?

PW:

That’s a great question. What I view is if you keep help, you know, we, we try to help people in this world today as much as possible. And if you keep help number one, above any other award, and help is your main focus, you’re gonna succeed.

IK:

What’s the biggest challenge that one faces when trying to get someone actually into rehab? What would you say?

PW:

The biggest challenge in getting anybody to rehabilitation is to get them to view their life.  Because if you’re failing, you’re not succeeding, you’re not gonna want to admit it to your peers, or your parents, or your wife or husband.

IK:

What are some of your biggest concerns regarding drug abuse?

PW:

That people are uninformed. People don’t know. We far too often observe and we put our blinders on and we don’t put the hammer down.

IK:

What type of programs are actually offered at Best Drug Rehabilitation?

PW:

Well, you know, Best Drug Rehabilitation offers a myriad of programs. What we did is, we sat down—a bunch of us therapists—and we decided to look at what works and we all raised our hand: how did you get sober? And I had counselors that were Native Americans, counselors that were Buddhists, I had counselors that were from Celebrate Recovery, which is Christian. And they all had a little bit of different of a story.

So instead of just saying this is the straight line you have to roll, we incorporated five different programs under one roof with five different trained counselors from five modalities.

So, not only do we have Celebrate Recovery, we have SMART Recovery.

Not only do we have cognitive behavior therapy, but we have Buddhism…if you want to take it.

It’s all an elective, and it seemed to me when I went to rehab that nobody would give me a choice. It was their way or the highway, and that didn’t work for me.

I had to formulate something that was a workable solution and incorporate some kind of a belief system that I could believe in.

IK:

There are some reports about you being a Scientologist, and actually using your centers as recruitment tools. Would you like to respond to those allegations?

PW:

Well, my personal beliefs have nothing to do with the beliefs that I teach at my rehabilitation centers.

I am a Scientologist. What religion are you?

IK:

I’m Christian.

PW:

Right. So we all have our basic belief system, and I believe that in rehabilitation spirituality is very important. But I don’t believe that you have to classify Scientology or Christianity or Buddhism—any of those—as a philosophy that somebody has to change to.

I believe you should pick tools up from every available aspect to kick what we call addiction’s behind.

IK:

Do you force patients or employees to become Scientologists?

PW:

Never!

Never, ever would I do that...100 percent.

IK:

For people who are watching this, is there a website for them to go to so they can actually learn more about your centers?

PW:

Well you can Google my center, you know, best, www dot BestDrug Rehabilitation dot com. You can Google www dot stopaddiction dot com.

As far as drug addiction, the best way to learn about drug addiction is to get on the phone and to call us or to call a counselor.

You’re going to get better information because you’re going to talk to somebody like we’re talking, where you can learn the truth!

IK:

Thank you so much for joining us, and for sharing all this information regarding your centers.

And thank you so much for watching. Have a great day.

 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

PER WICKSTROM COMES OUT: Meet The New Boss...Same As The Old Boss

Best Drug Rehabilitation founder Per Wickstrom, borrowing a page from the playbook of NFL draft prospect Michael Sam, has finally come out.

What?


But unlike Sam, Wickstrom's revelations did not address sexual orientation. In a video posted on January 8, 2014 to Best Drug Rehabilitation's YouTube channel, Wickstrom finally "came out" as a Scientologist.

I know, you're about as surprised as your girl Miss Fortune was when she learned the truth about the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy!

Although the video mimics a news interview, it is actually a highly-produced, scripted "video news release" created by the Detroit office of Bader News Services. On its website, Bader describes itself as "a global industry leader in same-day broadcast news production, media placement, and publicity." 

Bader explains that their "expert B-roll packages (i.e. supplemental television video), which include interview soundbites, are shot and edited to the specific expectations of television news bureaus around the world."  The company also creates what it calls "video press kits" to assist TV journalists and producers in "reporting" your story with "informative and entertaining footage."

Wickstrom is interviewed by Ingrid Kelley, Senior Producer in Bader's Detroit Bureau, whose bio shows she spent time as a writer with the Fox News Channel, appeared as on-air talent for several national cable news outlets, and was a freelance producer-writer for the Black Enterprise Business Report.

From Fox News to Faux News...is this a great country or what!

The video gets started on what 'Soul Brother Number One' James Brown would have called "the good foot" when Kelley mispronounces Wickstrom's first name, referring to him as "purr" instead of "pear". 

(I guess there wasn't enough money in the budget for a retake!) 

But let's start at the beginning, when Kelley asks Wickstrom about his tenure in "the business of helping people overcome substance abuse."

Wickstrom answers that he bought his first center in 2002, and his first client came through the doors on February 2, 2003.

Hmmm? And what was the name of that center?

Kelley didn't ask that question, but Miss Fortune provides the missing background for Wickstrom's first venture in "the business of helping people".

IN THE BEGINNING, THERE WAS NARCONON STONE HAWK

Narconon Stone Hawk Rehabilitation, Inc. was the non-profit domestic corporation Wickstrom and his former wife, Kate, formed on March 11, 2002 here in Michigan. In its initial filing, the corporation described its purpose was "to operate exclusively for charitable purposes by providing drug rehabilitation and educational services through the use of technology researched and developed by L. Ron Hubbard."



Hubbard, shown in an undated photo above, was a science fiction writer who founded the Church of Scientology in 1952.

Could this "coming out" video really be Wickstrom's "coming clean" video?

Not for the people of Battle Creek, Michigan, who remember that in the months prior to Stone Hawk's opening, Wickstrom publicly credited Narconon with helping him overcome his addiction to alcohol.

In a July 19, 2002 Battle Creek Enquirer article, Wickstrom said he and former wife decided to open the facility because of the impact the program had on his life.

"I overcame my problem with this program," said Wickstrom in the article. "I had been through four different programs that didn't work ... and then I tried Narconon."
 

Inmate Benitez, Narconon founder
However, former Michigan Corrections Department psychologist John Hand called Narconon "So misleading as to be termed a 'con.'" Hand said, "They are phony, a front for the Church of Scientology. We found out in Michigan that most of the money that we were paying Narconon was laundered back into the Church of Scientology." [Detroit News Feb. 11 1980] The study of Narconon in the Michigan penal system concluded, "graduates of the Narconon program do not do as well as our [prison] population in general." They discovered that Narconon made things worse, not better, for those dependent on drugs. 

Narconon Stone Hawk, located in Battle Creek at 216 St. Mary's Lake Road, closed in 2008. A Forever Recovery, another Wickstrom-related facility, began accepting patients at the St. Mary's Lake location on August 15, 2008.

But Wickstrom's public support of Narconon and its role in his own continued, most famously in a November 15, 2012 Huffington Post story, "From Addict to Entrepreneur: How I Overcame My Greatest Obstacle".

In that post, Wickstrom credited Narconon with helping him overcome his battle with addiction:

"Narconon saved my life. After graduation, I had to make a choice about what I wanted to do with my career: I could either go back to selling things (I was a terrific salesperson for GM), or I could dedicate my life to helping people. I realized that I was given a second chance at life and thus, found my higher calling: a dedication to helping people beat their addiction, just like I did.

I opened up my own Narconon center and saved more than 6,000 people throughout the course of several years. It felt great to help people and make a true difference in this world."

JUST A BUNCH OF US "THERAPISTS" SITTING AROUND TALKING: HOW DID YOU GET SOBER? (DID I HEAR "NARCONON"?)

Sounding like a stupid man's idea of what a thoughtful person sounds like, Wickstrom explains how he developed the treatment programs for his Manistee, MI-based facility, Best Drug Rehabilitation.

Wickstrom states that "Best Drug Rehabilitation offers a myriad of programs. What we did is, we sat down—a bunch of us therapists—and we decided to look at what works and we all raised our hand: how did you get sober?"

Oh, no, he didn't! 

If this story had a soundtrack, you'd be hearing a big, fat audio car crash right now.

So the self-described former auto finance manager considers himself a "therapist"? 

Really?

I don't remember much "tell me how that makes you feel" hand-holding when I bought my last car!

This misleading reference by Wickstrom implying that he's a "therapist" is wrong on many levels.

According to the State of Michigan's certification/licensing laws, "therapist" and "counselor" are considered protected titles of therapeutic intervention. Here in Michigan, as in most of the 50 states, there are three licensed groups of individuals—social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists.

Social workers are mental health professionals who can have differing credentials and responsibilities depending on the type of social work they choose to do. Social workers have a masters degree in social work or a related field, and serve in many communities as the first line of mental health support where psychologists or counselors are hard to come by. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) or Licensed Social Worker (LSW) often works to support families hurt by domestic abuse, sexual abuse, substance abuse, and other issues.

Psychologists are people who have a doctorate, are licensed and certified in the jurisdiction they choose to operate in, and you may see them with the acronym LCP (Licensed Clinical Psychologist) after their name in addition to a PhD or a PsyD. Psychologists are trained to work in clinical, research, and medical environments as well as with patients who need therapy. 

It's important to note that psychologists are the mental health personnel that are trained to test for and officially diagnose mental illnesses, whereas counselors and social workers can only suggest those conditions exist, and refer you to a psychologist for additional testing.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who also have doctorates, but differentiate themselves from psychologists because they are M.D.s and the ability to prescribe medication. Unlike psychologists, they may or may not be trained to provide therapy or to interact directly with patients.

In addition to licensed professionals, there are "credentialed professionals" who also assess and treat addiction.

Two of the most common credentials offered by the Michigan Certification Board for Addiction Professionals (MCBAP) are CAADC (Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor) and CADC (Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor).

It appears to Miss Fortune that Wickstrom has none of the requirementsa college degree, a professional license or accreditation—necessary to properly refer to himself as a "therapist".

A slip of the tongue...in a scripted video? 

Maybe, but your girl Miss Fortune is not buying it.

So, how did Wickstrom get sober? In the past, he's publicly credited Narconon...just not in this video.

In his interview with Kelley, Wickstrom rattles off the "five different programs" that Best Drug Rehabilitation has under one roof (including Native American, Buddhism and something he calls "cognitive behavior therapy"), and again neglects to mention Narconon.

Although Wickstrom's official license agreement with Narconon International, issued on October 10, 2001, was terminated on June 6, 2008 for unpaid fees and alleged "self-dealing", it appears likely that Wickstrom may currently have an agreement to use the Narconon program at Best Drug Rehabilitation and A Forever Recovery.


Do fish swim?
Most of the people who have spoken out about their experiences at Best Drug Rehabilitation and A Forever Recovery (on this blog, and sites like Reaching For The Tipping Point, and Narconon Reviews) describe using Narconon books and doing the drills used in the Narconon program, such as screaming at ashtrays or staring at someone for eight hours without moving. 




January 18, 2013 screen capture
In addition, Wickstrom's Best Drug Rehabilitation appears to have had some type of licensing agreement with the Church of Scientology's Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE) as recently as January 18, 2013.

In the January 18, 2013 screen capture (shown above) from Best Drug Rehabilitation's website, the Narconon logo prominently appears.

In addition to Narconon, ABLE acts as an umbrella organization for these three entities: Applied Scholastics (an educational program based on Scientology study technology), Criminon (a rehabilitation program for prisoners) and The Way to Happiness Foundation, dedicated to disseminating L. Ron Hubbard's "non-religious moral code". 

While Wickstrom does not directly acknowledge Narconon in this video, its aromatic fumes cling to him like sulfur to the Devil.

"I'M A SCIENTOLOGIST. WHAT RELIGION ARE YOU?"

And now we get to the video's "money shot"—Wickstrom's admission that he's indeed a Scientologist.

Kelley sets it up, asking him that there are "some reports about you being a Scientologist, and actually using your centers as recruitment tools. Would you like to respond to those allegations?"

Wickstrom, demonstrating a singular mix of petulance and defiance that hasn't been seen on screen since Pee-Wee Herman (before the weight gain), claims that his "personal beliefs have nothing to do with the beliefs that I teach at my rehabilitation centers." He pauses and continues: "I am a Scientologist. What religion are you?"

Here's where Miss Fortune has to pause the video.


For those readers unfamiliar with Scientology's scientific origins, here's the story in condensed form:

According to L. Ron Hubbard, the creator of Scientology, Xenu was the dictator of the "Galactic Confederacy" some 75 million years ago. Xenu brought billions of his people to Earth in a spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes, and dropped hydrogen bombs on them. The essences of the annihilated stuck around, however, and harass us today.


The story gets better, but there is little point in repeating it since it's a secret...and Scientologists deny it.


Near the end of the video, Kelley asks Wickstrom if he forces  "patients or employees to become Scientologists."

Wickstrom maintains he does not, saying "Never, ever would I do that...100 percent."

A commenter on Reaching for the Tipping Point who uses the name "Source", addresses Wickstrom's claim, breaking it down and parsing his words:

Now, how can the answer to this question be "never" when report after report keep coming out where clients report of being made to practice Scientology over and over as a part of their program?

Well, there is a difference between "forcing someone to practice Scientology" vs. "forcing someone to become a Scientologist".  


For those who don't know Scientology, the wording of this question is purposeful.  It is impossible to "force" anyone to become a Scientologist.  You can join Narconon, take auditing, and even join the SeaOrg without "becoming a Scientologist". 

According to Scientology, being a Scientologist doesn't occur when you take a certain course, auditing, or training.  It ONLY occurs when you DECIDE to become a Scientologist.


"Source" continues, stating that while Wickstrom is "technically correct", he was not asked whether he "ever forced staff or clients to take Scientology courses, classes or training." 

Somewhere in a course room in Battle Creek, there may be a group of people who say "yes". 

COMPLETE VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Note: Video as reviewed uploaded to YouTube January 8, 2014

Per Wickstrom Ingrid Kelley video transcript: as of February 16, 2014 5:30 PM

Ingrid Kelley (IK):

Hello, everyone. I’m Ingrid Kelley and thank you for joining us. Today, we are exploring the issue of substance abuse and the steps one can take to overcome this illness.


Joining me now with much more is Per Wickstrom. He is the founder of Best Drug Rehabilitation. Thank you so much for being here.

Per Wickstrom (PW):

Thank you for having me, Ingrid. It’s a pleasure, as always, to come and educate people on substance abuse.

IK:

OK. How long have you been in the business of helping people overcome substance abuse?

PW:

In 2002, I bought my first center. So actually you can (unintelligible) say when did I really get in the substance abuse busines? I started the company February 2nd of 2003; we actually had our first client come through the doors.

IK:

So what motivated you to actually own and operate your own business?

PW:

You know, that’s a real tough question because motivation comes from many different aspects in life. And I would say that when I went back into the car/automobile business, it wasn’t satisfying. We had the same things that we have and it changed because I had changed going through rehabilitation.

IK:

And why are you succeeding in an industry where most people are actually failing?

PW:

That’s a great question. What I view is if you keep help, you know, we, we try to help people in this world today as much as possible. And if you keep help number one, above any other award, and help is your main focus, you’re gonna succeed.

IK:

What’s the biggest challenge that one faces when trying to get someone actually into rehab? What would you say?

PW:

The biggest challenge in getting anybody to rehabilitation is to get them to view their life.  Because if you’re failing, you’re not succeeding, you’re not gonna want to admit it to your peers, or your parents, or your wife or husband.

IK:

What are some of your biggest concerns regarding drug abuse?

PW:

That people are uninformed. People don’t know. We far too often observe and we put our blinders on and we don’t put the hammer down.

IK:

What type of programs are actually offered at Best Drug Rehabilitation?

PW:

Well, you know, Best Drug Rehabilitation offers a myriad of programs. What we did is, we sat down—a bunch of us therapists—and we decided to look at what works and we all raised our hand: how did you get sober? And I had counselors that were Native Americans, counselors that were Buddhists, I had counselors that were from Celebrate Recovery, which is Christian. And they all had a little bit of different of a story.

So instead of just saying this is the straight line you have to roll, we incorporated five different programs under one roof with five different trained counselors from five modalities.

So, not only do we have Celebrate Recovery, we have SMART Recovery.

Not only do we have cognitive behavior therapy, but we have Buddhism…if you want to take it.

It’s all an elective, and it seemed to me when I went to rehab that nobody would give me a choice. It was their way or the highway, and that didn’t work for me.

I had to formulate something that was a workable solution and incorporate some kind of a belief system that I could believe in.

IK:

There are some reports about you being a Scientologist, and actually using your centers as recruitment tools. Would you like to respond to those allegations?

PW:

Well, my personal beliefs have nothing to do with the beliefs that I teach at my rehabilitation centers.

I am a Scientologist. What religion are you?

IK:

I’m Christian.

PW:

Right. So we all have our basic belief system, and I believe that in rehabilitation spirituality is very important. But I don’t believe that you have to classify Scientology or Christianity or Buddhism—any of those—as a philosophy that somebody has to change to.

I believe you should pick tools up from every available aspect to kick what we call addiction’s behind.

IK:

Do you force patients or employees to become Scientologists?

PW:

Never!

Never, ever would I do that...100 percent.

IK:

For people who are watching this, is there a website for them to go to so they can actually learn more about your centers?

PW:

Well you can Google my center, you know, best, www dot BestDrug Rehabilitation dot com. You can Google www dot stopaddiction dot com.

As far as drug addiction, the best way to learn about drug addiction is to get on the phone and to call us or to call a counselor.

You’re going to get better information because you’re going to talk to somebody like we’re talking, where you can learn the truth!

IK:

Thank you so much for joining us, and for sharing all this information regarding your centers.

And thank you so much for watching. Have a great day.



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

GUMGUM STEPS IN IT: Platform's In-Image Ads Use Detroit "Ruin Porn" Photos To Sell Lincoln's Luxury MKX SUV, Chobani Yogurt, AT&T

PHOTOS...THE FINAL FRONTIER?
 
GumGum describes itself as a digital advertising platform built on the fundamental belief that for ads to be effective they need to be seen. 

Well, your girl Miss Fortune just saw a group of Detroit "ruin porn" photos on Indulgd.com, one of the nearly 2,400 "premium websites" that allow GumGum to place ads atop photos on their sites, that may come back to haunt their respective advertisers—especially Dearborn-based Lincoln Motor Company.


A "Detroit decay porn" photo essay published on Indulgd.com in late January, "29 Most Eerie Photos of The Abandoned and Bankrupt City of Detroit", features work previously published in the 2010 book "The Ruins of Detroit" by Yves Manchand and Romain Meffre of Paris.

The photos "show the grandeur of the history of Detroit and at the same time expose the horror of the city's financial disaster."


Perfect content for selling a $40,000 hybrid SUV, right?  
Not in the opinion of this former consumer packaged goods advertising Account Supervisor!

While it's clear to Miss Fortune that Lincoln wouldn't have knowingly selected the images, the unfortunate juxtaposition is especially jarring with the automaker's banners, which link to a 15-second commercial (image at left) featuring a couple living in an expansive industrial-style loft with an  idealized urban skyline view.

CEO Ophir Tanz has explained that GumGum's technology crawls publishers' pages for keywords  to identify on which images to run the ads. 

And GumGum reportedly hired an impressive team of statisticians, PhDs and image scientists to create the first image recognition technology that matches advertising to content (photos) and that can drill down to target keywords.

So your girl Miss Fortune wonders what keywords popped up for GumGum to deliver an image of Detroit's Packard Plant as the perfect "content" for Lincoln's 2014 MKX?






And what makes this abandoned building in Detroit perfect for Chobani's USOC-related ad? 

  








If GumGum takes brand safety seriously, it needs to improve the platform's protection mechanisms.

At least the AT&T ad isn't entirely creepy...




http://indulgd.com/abandoned-and-bankrupt-city-of-detroit/#sthash.ID1YJRpr.dpuf

Friday, February 7, 2014

PER WICKSTROM AND HIS DETROIT LIONS BROMANCE: Is This The Beginning Of The End?

Like sad, sweet Tammy Wynette sang back in the day, it appears Per Wickstrom and the Detroit Lions may be headed for a 
D-I-V-O-R-C-E.

Miss Fortune discovered this morning that two of the numerous Herman Moore/Best Drug Rehabilitation videos, accessible as recently as yesterday afternoon on BDR's YouTube channel, have been deleted.

The videos were shot back in May 2013 during Moore's appearance in Battle Creek at a Calhoun County Fraternal Order of Police/Detroit Lions charity basketball game. Shown in a screen capture at left from one of the now-deleted videos, Moore used the event to shill for Best Drug Rehabilitation while seated in front of a Best Drug Rehabilitation banner wearing his Detroit Lions-branded basketball jersey.

Back in December, Miss Fortune detailed Wickstrom's use of former Detroit Lions players in promotional videos for his drug rehabilitation clinics in a two-part series I called "Addiction 101".

In Part 1, Per Wickstrom's Selfie Video Spigot, I examined the close business relationship between Moore and Wickstrom, and revealed how the pair have used Moore's Detroit Lions "community appearances" as part of a formerly undisclosed scheme to promote their mutual business interests.

Wickstrom and Moore, who are now working together to expand Battle Creek's A Forever Recovery into Monroe County, have a long-established working relationship.

In fact, Moore spoke publicly in support of Best Drug Rehabilitation's Marne expansion at a Wright Township Planning Commission meeting in June 2013. Wickstrom is currently in litigation with Wright Township, who refused to grant Best Drug Rehabilitation a Special Land Use permit required for the expansion.

In Part 2: Per Wickstrom and the Detroit Lions...Happy Together?, I revealed the additional videos, with sports figures like former Lion Barry Sanders, that Wickstrom uses to flood the Interwebs with junk content developed to push down negative Google results and counteract Wickstrom's less-than-sterling reputation.

Could it be that the Detroit Lions may not approve of Moore promoting Per Wickstrom's business on Lions time?

Sure looks like it's possible, and your girl Miss Fortune will be watching for more updates.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

LAWYERS, GUNS & MONEY: Another Exclusive From Miss Fortune


Your girl Miss Fortune hoped to have the story of  Sean Jordan, Per Wickstrom's new business associate, completed today. 

However, it's so multi-layered that I've rescheduled the post until tomorrow.

It will be worth the wait!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

PER WICKSTROM CAN REALLY PICK 'EM: Wickstom's New Business Partner Sean Jordan And His Shady Past

FULL STORY COMING TOMORROW! READ "LAWYERS, GUNS & MONEY" ONLY FROM MISS FORTUNE! 

Back on November 14, 2013, the Monroe News described Sean Jordan, who along with former Detroit Lion Herman Moore is Per Wickstrom's newest business partner, in glowing terms. Jordan, a West Point graduate, was described in the article as a "former NFL football player with the Dallas Cowboys".

But that's not completely true. 

While Jordan did sign with the Cowboys as a free agent in 1994, he was cut from the team without playing a game after he pulled a right groin muscle in practice. 

And that's not the only painful part of this story.

Come back tomorrow and learn more about Mr. Jordan's other partners, like Robert Lee Hammond and Andre Evans and a $300,000 wire transfer from Australia to a Merrill Lynch account in Bloomfield Hills.

And don't forget about the May 22, 2006 guilty plea for that "carrying concealed-attempt" charge in Wayne County.

But I'm getting ahead of myself... 

Monroe County, you deserve so much better than Wickstrom and his cohorts!

Monday, February 3, 2014

NARCONON FREEDOM CENTER REPLACES RELAPSED FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR BRIAN KEUHNE WITH JOHN WALSER; CAN JEANNIE TRAHANT BE FAR BEHIND?

A former Narconon insider recently revealed to Miss Fortune that Brian Kuehne, shown in an undated photo at left, has relapsed and been replaced as Executive Director of Albion, Michigan's Narconon Freedom Center by former Senior Intake Counselor John Walser.

Kuehne's roll in a September "Recovery Month" PR stunt was chronicled on this blog in a story named "From Hopeless to Dopeless...And Back Again", revealing that Kuehne took former Freedom Center "graduate" Sara Doane, on a media tour while concealing the fact that he had a personal relationship with Doane and that she had been arrested and charged with operating while intoxicated four days before the September 22 live interview at Indianapolis' Fox 59.

The former insider reports that Kuehne has gone "back to school", and may be serving as an intern at the Freedom Center.

Miss Fortune would like to share an interview Kuehne did less than a year ago with "Whitney" for a site called onceanaddict.org. Kuehne's interview, part of a series of interviews with drug and alcohol rehabilitation professionals, was called "Holistic Approach Rehabilitation".  

Whitney explains the holistic approach as follows:

Holistic approach centers are most notable for their drug-free approach to addiction based rehabilitation. They offer a wide-variety of treatment options that focus primarily on this one aspect; a drug-free approach. Most offer health-based programs while focusing in different ways on physiological treatment for addicts. Some include heavy vitamin regimens as well as diet and exercise therapy while others focus on educational treatment for addicts and their families. Others still work diligently to focus on both of these aspects in long-term, in-patient settings.

Whitney goes on to explain why she selected the Narconon Freedom Center:
 
The featured holistic rehabilitation center is Narconon Freedom Center of Albion, MI. This center was chosen as Narconon is a world-wide and renowned drug and alcohol rehabilitation organization with a high success rate, per published reports. They also offer a relatively affordable long-term in-patient program which, in my opinion, is highly valuable to readers of this blog.

Here are some highlights from Kuehne's interview:


Tell me a bit of your own story- how did you end up working for Narconon Freedom Center? What is your job title and how long have you been there?
 
I ended up on Narconon’s doorstep on June 11th of 2005, as a patient, after several failed attempts at other rehabilitation models including state funded 12 steps, premier 12 steps, dual diagnosis treatments, intensive out-patient programs and multiple near death scenarios. After completing 5 ½ months at Narconon Freedom Center, I returned to a new and more stable me. After graduating, I returned home and felt the need to do something more impactful.  I opted to return and volunteer my services in an effort to help others achieve what I had achieved through the Narconon program.  After a few short months, I found that my original plan to “get on my feet” while volunteering was no longer the plan and that I had finally found my calling in life.  I decided to dedicate the rest of my life to helping others get out of the enslavement of drug addiction.  Since beginning my employment at Narconon Freedom Center in the spring of 2006, at 22 years old, I have been trained and apprenticed at every position available within the facility.  I am now the Executive Director of Narconon Freedom Center. Along with being charged with the running of the facility that once saved my life, I do drug education lectures at local schools and work closely with local justice systems in an effort to steer drug addicts away from incarceration and get them a shot at rehabilitating their lives.

Tell me about Narconon Freedom Center and the unique approach you use there to rehabilitate people from drug and alcohol addiction.

Narconon Freedom Center is a long-term, in-patient holistic rehabilitation facility.  The program length varies anywhere from 3-5 months.  The reason for the variation is that we are not a time based program, but rather result based.  Meaning, each client that starts a portion of the program is treated as an individual. Understanding that all individuals are different in what needs to be addressed in regards to their rehabilitation, it takes different people different amounts of time to complete each step of the program.  I like to think of the program as a 3-phased program.  When a client first arrives, their body and vitamin balance is addressed.  This starts with a drug-free withdrawal which is promptly followed by a short communication course. They then enter a sauna program designed to rid the body of accumulated toxins from years of substance abuse.  Following this, the 2nd Phase begins.  The 2nd Phase includes a short course on how to study effectively (most individuals who arrive at the facility do not have the best educational backgrounds and we want to ensure that the material being studied in the rest of the program is retained,) followed by a more in-depth communication course. The 2nd Phase is then wrapped up using a series of cognitive exercises designed to get the client’s attention more focused on the here and now.  Here, as you can see, we are primarily addressing the mind.  After Phase 2, the client starts Phase 3, which is essentially a runway that launches them back into the world with the tools they need to stay off of drugs.  They learn about who to trust and how to handle people in their lives better, they learn about responsibility and what happens when transgressions are committed in life, and they learn about how to repair conditions that they created or may create in the future.  These 3 phases pretty much wrap up the main program but there is more that is done on the extended program and aftercare.

Is there a specific reason you chose to work for a holistic approach rehab rather than the other types of approaches? What benefits do you see this approach as having?

I chose to work for Narconon Freedom Center because I had seen such miraculous results.  Narconon boasts a 75% success rate, and to be honest, this is why my family chose this program for me when I was struggling.  For some time, I thought that it was a subjective estimation of the effectiveness of the program but we’ve implemented an after-care tracking system and I’ve found our success rate to actually be even higher.  Currently Narconon Freedom Center’s success rate is 89.1%.  Many people don’t know this but up until 2012 SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Heath Services Administration) had not defined concisely what recovery meant, so statistics across the field really couldn’t be verified.  With the newly released definition, Narconon International [Narconon’s Corporate Office, based in Los Angeles, CA] pulled case studies dating back to 1972 to document its successes.  The studies range in the amount of subjects studied.  Some of the studies were done as control groups and some were not but the bottom line is, all the data equates again to a 75% success rate.  This study can be downloaded at http://www.narconon.org free of charge.

Gee, I wonder if Narconon considers Kuehne a success? 

HOPE FLOATS: Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder Launches 2014 Re-Election Campaign With Super Bowl Ad; Subliminal Seduction?

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water...

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder formally launched his re-election campaign last night with "Comeback Kid", a commercial whose name might land on next year's AVN list of "Clever Title" nominees.

The commercial aired in the Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Traverse City markets, and Snyder launches his campaign for a second four-year term today with stops in Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids.

Funny, although some of the commentary about the commercial derides the fact no one in Michigan has actually called Snyder the "comeback kid", the definition of "comeback kid" hasn't been addressed--until now.

A "comeback" is variously defined as either a return to formerly enjoyed status or prosperity or a return to popularity.

In December 2013, the Detroit Free Press reported that Snyder's approval rating had ticked up to 35.6%, its highest point since the summer of 2012.

Am I missing something here?

Having produced television commercials during my advertising days, I'm judging this one as more "eHarmony" than "eLection". The soft-focus video of Snyder in a pool doesn't make your girl Miss Fortune want to "fall in love for the right reasons".
 
I'll leave it to others to point out that Michigan’s unemployment rate is 8.4%, as it was in April last year. Michigan is ranked 48th in the country, trailing behind only Rhode Island, Nevada, and Illinois.

And that most of the 222,000 jobs Snyder claims credit for creating  in our state is a direct result of the resurgence of the automotive manufacturers, something that former governor Jennifer Granholm and President Barack Obama both played a direct role in creating.

Sure, Snyder lowered taxes — on businesses. And our "surplus" is money that was stolen from seniors, students, our poorest residents, and the middle class. 

And what about that "snorkeling"?

I'll bet nobody from the Snyder campaign even looked that phrase up in the Urban Dictionary.