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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

“CROOKED CHIROPRACTOR” ROBERT BUCKHANNON SUED…FOR BEING CROOKED! Will Stunning California Civil Fraud Complaint (Filed January 15, 2020) Finally Screw Up Buckhannon's Criminal Plea Deal, Or Will The Feds Let Him Skate...Again?!

On June 23, 2013, I posted my first story about Robert Buckhannon, a sleazy character I dubbed the “Crooked Chiropractor”. In the piece, I dubbed Buckhannon Michigan's newest con king.

In retrospect, it looks like I was right.

Buckhannon was one of three defendants named in a civil fraud complaint filed January 15, 2020 in California's Superior Court/Orange County by OC Care Management, Inc. (OCCM).

OC Care Management was formed on September 13, 2019 by Sajid (Jay) Geronimo. 

The complaint alleges breach of contract, intentional interference with a contractual relation, intentional interference with prospective economic relations, and conversion. OCCM is seeking damages in excess of $50,000 arising out of defendants Genetic Technological Innovations, LLC and CEO Nicholas Glimcher's failure to pay OCCM according to an oral contract, as a result of defendant Buckhannon's wrongful conduct in preventing OCCM from receiving payment for services rendered to GTI.

Essentially, it appears Buckhannon financially cock-blocked OCCM's referral fee income stream (AKA kickbacks) from GTI by cutting a side deal of his own.

First, I need to step back: on December 20, 2019, I published a story connecting Robert Buckhannon with Geronimo.  For several weeks, I investigated allegations that Buckhannon had established a business office in Las Vegas, operating under the name “Gentle Consultant Agency LLC”. The business appeared to be a Medicare/Medicaid referral service.

While I was unable to locate any Nevada business entities under either the Gentle or Noble names, I did discover that Buckhannon's business had a direct link to a convicted California con man, Sajid “Jay” Geronimo. 

After confirming numerous details of Geronimo's checkered fraud career, including his involvement in a 2013 Washington State mortgage fraud scheme with Moncerrat Beltran's Bridgeman, Howard & Associates, a $500,000 breach of contract civil suit filed September 26, 2019 in Orange County, California's Superior Court against Geronimo's Cure Healthcare, Inc. by SDL Soft Tech Private Unlimited, and his newly-formed SRK Management, Inc. (formed in April 2019 at the same Buena Park address used on Geronimo's Care Management Group business card), I reached out to him via email in late December.

My interaction with Geronimo, and subsequent follow up earlier this month, drew the attention of his attorney, who threatened to sue me on behalf of his client if I “spread rumors that my client has an association with Mr. Buckhannon”.

I'm smart enough to find the bread crumbs in the attorney's threat, and quickly figured out that Geronimo actually “had” an association (past tense) with Buckhannon. The attorney referenced a lawsuit, which I easily located, sidestepping litigation with Geronimo.

He can't sue me for revealing allegations made in a public court document, right?

Back to the lawsuit: 

OCCM is a California corporation with its primary place of business in Orange County, State of California. OCCM provides management and marketing services to all types of healthcare-related practices. (How it did that in less than four months is still a mystery.)

Defendant GTI is described in the filing as a Delaware limited liability company licensed to do business in California with its place of business in Orange County, State of California. 

GTI is a medical laboratory providing pharmacogenetic, toxicology, and other biomedical testing and analysis services. 

GTI also does business in California by virtue of running a medical testing laboratory in the City of Irvine, State of California.

Here's what the complaint didn't mention: former GTI CEO Nicolas Arroyo, 38, of Newport Coast, CA, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States on Jan. 14, 2020 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Caroline Craven. 

Prior to Glimcher taking over as CEO, Arroyo headed the company and, between 2012 and 2017, he conspired with others to pay and receive kickbacks in exchange for the referral and arranging of pharmacogenetic tests. 

The arrangement concerned the referral of tests to clinical labs in Fountain Valley, Irvine and San Diego, prosecutors said. 

More than $28 million in illegal kickback payments were exchanged by defendants and others during the conspiracy, according to prosecutors.

The 34-page factual basis for Arroyo's guilty plea, filed on January 14, 2020, reveals in precise detail how he and employees of GTI (Genetic Technological Innovations, LLC) and a sister entity (Arizona corporation Vantari Medical LLC, registed in 2016 by Arroyo) “generated business for Vantari in exchange for kickback payments, namely payments that were determined in a manner that took into account the volume or value of any referrals or business otherwise generated between the parties for which payment may be made in who or part under the Medicare, Medicaid, or other federal health care programs. Likewise, other distributors also generated business for Vantari in exchange for kickback payments.”

There's that word: kickbacks. 

According to the OCCM complaint, Glimcher (shown at left) is GTI’s manager and chief executive officer, and Robert Buckhannon is an independent contractor under an oral contract to provide marketing services for OCCM.

In the complaint, OCCM asserts that GTI was an alter ego of Glimcher (much like former CEO Arroyo), and a unity of interest and ownership between these Defendants existed such that any separateness between them ceased to exist in that Glimcher completely controlled, dominated, managed, and operated GTI to suit his convenience. 

Specifically, Glimcher (1) controlled the business and affairs of GTI, including any and all of their affiliates; (2) commingled funds and assets of the corporate entities and diverted corporate funds for his own personal use; (3) disregarded legal formalities and failed to maintain arm’s length relationships among the corporate entities; (4) held himself out as personally liable for the debts of the corporate entities; (5) used corporate entities as mere shells, instrumentalities or conduits for himself and/or his individual businesses; (6) used corporate entities to conceal their ownership, management, and financial interests and/or personal business activities; and/or (9) used the corporate entities to shield against personal obligations, and in particular, the obligations as alleged in the complaint. 

Here are the allegations against Glimcher and Buckhannon:

OCCM entered into an oral agreement with Buckhannon through its president and chief executive officer, Sajid Geronimo (“Jay Geronimo”).

Under the oral agreement, Buckhannon was to identify prospective and marketing opportunity clients and introduce those clients to OCCM in exchange for a flat fee payable each month the agreement was in effect. 

In or around early August 2019, Buckhannon approached OCCM with a potential business opportunity with GTI and Glimcher: Buckhannon brought them to the table. 

As a result, OCCM then entered into a separate oral agreement with GTI through Glimcher, GTI’s manager and chief executive officer. Under that agreement, OCCM provided marketing services for GTI in return for a fee based on the number of testing samples referred to GTI by doctors who were made aware of GTI’s services through OCCM’s marketing efforts. 

Since the oral agreement went into effect, OCCM has continually requested GTI to submit a written contract to memorialize their arrangement. Despite providing the agreed upon services of GTI, OCCM never received a written contract from GTI. 

Big mistake...or was it. It's harder to prove a kickback scheme if you don't memorialize it on paper!

Subsequently, GTI refused to pay OCCM for its services. 

GTI also refused to provide an accounting for the value of OCCM’s services. 

OCCM initially had access to a client portal that did provide an accounting for the value of OCCM’s services. Under their agreement, GTI would only allow Geronimo access to the client portal because he was the chief executive officer of OCCM. 

GTI, however, has since blocked OCCM’s access to that portal. 

Prior to blocking OCCM’s access to the client portal, GTI informed OCCM that Buckhannon was wrongfully attempting to gain access to that portal. OCCM refused to grant Buckhannon access. 

OCCM alleged Buckhannon wrongfully directed GTI to pay him rather than OCCM for OCCM’s services, causing GTI to also remove OCCM’s access to the client portal. 

Accordingly, Buckhannon purposely and intentionally interefered with GTI and OCCM’s economic and contractual relationship by causing GTI to not pay OCCM, blocking OCCM’s access to the client portal, and disrupting GTI and OCCM’s business relationship. 

Boy, that sure sounds like someone broke a law, which Buckhannon is barred from doing according to the terms of his plea deal.

OCCM has demanded a jury trial, and claims an amount to be proven at trial and in excess of $50,000. 

Buckhannon is scheduled for sentencing in the On Deck fraud case on February 13, 2020 at 11:00am.

Meanwhile, I've drafted and sent an email to the Assistant United States Attorney prosecuting Buckhannon, detailing these revelations, and more I was unwilling to publish here.

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