I often save what I’ll term a “fragmentary tip” because of the subject matter. From my standpoint writing for Slabbed this is a warm and fuzzy moment because almost exactly 3 years ago to the day I got a tip alluding to a connection between Northshore businessman Bay Ingram, Ted Cain along with certain high profile targets of a now defunct Federal criminal investigation that I will not name at this time. Armed with that fragmentary tip and with the magic of the right google search strings Slabbed can verify the connection Mssrs. Ingram and Cain mutually share. Let’s begin with some must read links:
A major contributor to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s campaign, Ingram was appointed by Jindal to the state Mineral Board in March 2008. A the time he was listed as being the president of Healthcare Holdings of Louisiana and Ingram Investments.
In 2006, Ingram was caught up in a controversy involving the sale of a former golf practice facility along Interstate 12 near Slidell to St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain’s office.
Ingram and frequent business partner Don McMath bought the property for $2 million, then sold it to the sheriff’s office for $2.4 million a few hours later. Strain defended the move as a good value for the money.
Ingram is a man that got around in metro New Orleans business circles and was very active in the healthcare industry on the Northshore including bringing Doctors’ Hospital in Slidell out of bankruptcy with a capital infusion. As a young man in his 20s he owned Bimini Bay in Slidell for those that remember that particular Slidell drinking establishment. Before I make the connection there is some additional vital background that is revealing IMHO:
In the BP case, federal prosecutors say Ingram fabricated documents to grossly over bill the oil giant for a helicopter and helipads used to help the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office do recovery work after the April 2010 oil spill. Ingram invoiced BP for more than $1.4 million despite never receiving proper approval for use of the helicopter. Once BP denied payment, Ingram enlisted the help of then-Sheriff Jack Stephens to press the company and eventually sued BP. But according to the bill of information filed against him, Ingram had falsified flight logs and forged documents provided to BP.
A civil suit involving Ingram that was also frequently mentioned in the press during the his prosecution involved Cypress Pointe Surgical Hospital. The following early account of the suit from the local Hammond newspaper is Joe Fridayesque with a strong emphasis on presenting “journalistic facts” at the expense of analysis:
Hospital partners wage bitter fight ~ William Carroll
“In a termination agreement signed May 4, 2011, and again in a membership agreement signed by James Aldridge on May 5, 2011, Aldridge affirmed that there had been no illegal activity of any sort during his affiliation with the hospital,” said hospital spokesman James Hartman.
I want to make sure everyone has a proper time context because Carroll’s piece was written a month before Katherine Sayre’s second story linked above about the broader federal investigation into Ingram’s business dealings. Speaking of Sayre’s second story, for those of you that did not follow the link the Ingram to Cain commonality was also revealed by Sayre:
The order also notes that investigators with the FBI made a visit in February 2012 to another of Ingram’s business ventures — Cypress Pointe Surgical Hospital in Hammond. Ingram, who has since transferred his interest in the hospital to a family trust, is named in a civil lawsuit against the hospital filed by its former CEO, Aldridge. The suit alleges fraudulent activity by Ingram and the other business partners.
Aldridge?? The gentleman has certainly gotten around and evidently seen the worst of the ugly underbelly of the health care industry here in the deep south:
JAMES ALDRIDGE, RELATOR, on behalf of UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v H. TED CAIN, JULIE CAIN, CORPORATE MANAGEMENT, INC., a Mississippi corporation; and STONE COUNTY HOSPITAL, INC. ~ United States Department of Justice (PDF viewer required)
It is here that I open Pandora’s box with some hesitation because those of you connecting the dots can only come to a few inescapable conclusions:
…..Aldridge of Mandeville, Cypress Pointe’s former CEO and one of the investors, recently claimed in a lawsuit that from the beginning, the development of Cypress Pointe Surgical Hospital was a hotspot of fraudulent dealings. Aldridge’s suit alleges that he was forced to resign as CEO and ultimately kicked out of the partnership when he questioned some actions. The hospital responded by claiming Aldridge was expelled for bad behavior, poor job performance and violating confidentiality under his contract. The legal battle is still pending in District Court in St. Tammany Parish. The hospital asked a judge in a hearing last month to dismiss the case.
Aldridge, 38, has worked in leadership at two hospitals in Alabama and Mississippi and more recently, headed home health care for Ochsner in New Orleans, according to his resume filed in court. Aldridge and his lawyer, Edward Gibson, declined to be interviewed. Ingram also declined to comment.
And the cesspool was then completed with the Louisiana State Court System being used to run interference against a then ongoing federal criminal investigation:
That month, the hospital sought a restraining order against Aldridge after he threatened to go public with his claims — which the hospital insisted were untrue, according to court records. The hospital described Aldridge’s behavior as a “bizarre and aggressive retaliatory campaign of defamation and unauthorized disclosure of confidential hospital business.”
Aldridge, in turn, counter-sued and laid out his view of how the partnership fell apart.
When you read Sayre’s old reporting on the Bay Ingram prosecution all sorts of old names keeps popping up. First up is an old NOLA.com commenter whose handle I recognize in xxquepasaxx about then Cypress Pointe Spokesman James Hartman:
james hartman is the spokesman for this shady operation? i thought he worked for st tammany fire district 12 for their mute chief.
Governmental PR in Louisiana is evidently a risky business because St Tammany Fire District 12 was just in the news as luck would have it:
Hartman was no where to be seen at that Parish Council meeting but I shall not further digress.
So Aldridge worked for Ted Cain before tying up with him in a False Claims Act lawsuit that has been sealed for years until very recently. After leaving Cain’s employ Aldridge jumped out of the frying pan into the fire hooking up with and then falling out with Bay Ingram in the years before his federal prosecution such falling out including allegations in a St Tammany civil suit that sound very similar to those contained in the False Claims Act suit the Government is now prosecuting against Ted Cain. It’s a small world and this brings me back to a couple of things that have stuck with me since Slabbed’s initial post on this topic the first being Cain’s company listing Mississippi DMR Chief Operating Officer Joe Spraggins as its Director of Business Development:
In fairness to Spraggins his LinkedIn page lists Corporate Management as a previous employer but what I noticed is through all the previous iterations of the Corporate Management website management pages is some names were removed like former CAO Robert Bass who was included on the February 3, 2015 rendition of the CMI webpage but who was omitted from the August 11, 2015 rendition of the same page. Spraggins goes all the way back to the August 5, 2013 rendition of the CMI management listing which predates the October 3, 2013 announcement of his hiring on at Mississippi DMR. To the extent CMI appears to regularly update its website for personnel changes per the internet Wayback machine, on September 25, 2015 using the contact form on the Mississippi DMR website I contacted DMR Spokesperson Melessa Scallan for clarification and/or comment on what appears to be Spraggin’s dual employment status. Following is her reply:
Luckily for everyone commenter Point Park filled in a few gaps:
You will not get a response from the donut eater. It is all double speak. General Spraggins “expertise” is that he sits in the same pew at Jamie Miller. Same church same qualifications; the cake eater in HR has thoroughly approved this association. The donut eater has a wide screen television installed in her office so she can watch LSU during working hours on your dime. Maybe she is so caught up in the game Doug she doesn’t have time for your request. Speaking of qualifications I have been told that Jamie Miller is hiring another Palazzo flunky. His new secretary is a Palazzo cast down because she didn’t hand out pecan crunches quick enough. She will be a big hit with the cake eater and the donut eater. And speaking of qualifications; I have been told Jamie’s daughter is dating the guy in Tidelands office. How’s that for inbred qualifications? Sound familiar? Oh and since we are on our merry way down memory lane, Jamie, the Donut Eater and two other privileged elitists from the Tidelands office got to go to the Jimmy buffet concert at the expense of the taxpayers. An awful lot like Tina paying for her family to attend the Ingal’s ship christening back over here in Pascagoula.
So keep holding your breath Doug, or maybe your could sweeten the pot and send some cake and donuts with your next request.
Who knew the key to having press inquiries responded to by a Mississippi State Agency lay in cake and donuts? Moving right along the second thing that stuck with me is the $50,000 campaign contribution Cain made to Lieutenant Gov Tate Reeves. Mr. Cain does not strike me as the type that gives anyone $50,000 without wanting something in return, especially a politician. Upon further review the following Clarion Ledger story from September 24, 2015 may just hold a clue:
State health department has $18.5 million deficit ~ Jimmie Gates
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said the Legislature has provided the health department about $10 million more from the general fund over the last four years, leading him to surmise that the Legislature isn’t likely to go along with the request for an $18.5 million deficit appropriation.
Currier said the department has seen a decrease in almost all services, including in vaccinations.
The deficit is due to a $10 million cash transfer from the health department to the state’s rainy day fund in 2010, a one-third decrease in Medicaid reimbursement from 2012-2014, and a $5 million deficit due to the closing of home health care from 2007-2014. Also, Currier said the state’s new accounting software system contributed to the department inability to determine its cash balances this fiscal year.
To understand how this is could be considered a clue is to understand the legislative battle that occurred in 2007 that resulted in the Board of Health being sunsetted by the Mississippi legislature along with Cain’s frequent court battles against the Mississippi Department of Health that included one suit that was being litigated after former Governor Musgrove appointed Cain to the State Board of Health. From Gates’ story it appears Reeves is saying the Health Department has received $10 million more in state appropriations since 2010 while the State Health Officer is maintaining the State never made good on the $10 million dollar cut that was made in 2010 to the Agency’s budget thus forming the largest part of the Agency’s $18.5 million dollar accumulated deficit. In any event Gates made clear on Twitter the agency’s chances of recouping any extra money:
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves tells Health Dept. head not to leave budget hearing optimistic of getting $18.5m deficit bailout.#msleg
— Jimmie E. Gates (@jgatesnews) September 22, 2015
Something tells me not all the dots have been connected, not by a long shot folks. Stay tuned.