Three year old tip unifies Northshore criminal prosecution and Ex Rel Aldridge

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:

Covington businessman Bay Ingram sentenced to 18 months for BP oil spill fraud ~ Katherine Sayre

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:

St. Tammany Parish businessman Bay Ingram, guilty of BP fraud, was target of broader federal probe ~ Katherine Sayre

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:

Covington businessman Bay Ingram’s ownership in hospital targeted in legal battle ~ Katherine Sayre

…..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:

St. Tammany Council approves loan for financially troubled fire district but calls for investigations ~ Sara Pagones

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:

Screen Capture of Corporate Management Inc.'s Operations Management page.
Screen Capture of Corporate Management Inc.’s Operations Management page.

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:

zzzzzzzzzz

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:

Something tells me not all the dots have been connected, not by a long shot folks. Stay tuned.

11 thoughts on “Three year old tip unifies Northshore criminal prosecution and Ex Rel Aldridge”

  1. I have heard many people around the office make comments that Melissa is quite a piece of work. Maybe they should rename that department Hidden Relatons (HID-R) instead of Public Relations (HR)

  2. A very long post and if it were not for cute picture of the General, I would have missed the DMR goodies. :)

    As a taxpayer, I feel responsible and feel obligated to apologize to the public for the lack of communication you received from “Mz. Melizza Scallan.” After all, we are paying her salary and it seems that she thinks that all she has to do is strut around the Bolton Building with that Ghetto Azz of hers..

    Here is a piece of Jamie’s work:

    http://slabbed.org/2015/06/08/dmr-scandal-resurfaces-during-election-season/comment-page-1/

    Check out the one is the back with a mouth full of………………………….donuts?

    1. Eye, what ever became of the employee that was the original PR person at DMR??? Did they get rid of her or frame her; so that they could bring in Jamie’s donut eating pal???? It is amazing the the pastor at their church on the new Hwy 605? is allowing all of these real sinners to sit in the pews of that church. It reflects poorly on him because his flock is not living according to the Bible that I read.
      I have a sneaking feeling that Mr. Miller will be answering to the fiddler pretty soon, along with some of the other “friends and family”. Things have been quiet on the Tina Shoemate front and I wonder how she is being supported. Nothing new on the Walkers either…and almost none of the DMR crooks have paid their fines and restitution – and that includes Gulfport’s mayor’s brother-in-law, Joe Zeigler – to name only one. When will the Taxpayers see these “demands” from our Attorney General collected??? How about it Mr. Pickering??? When will these be paid??? Or even efforts be made to collect these monies???
      Don’t forget to vote folks!! And there’s a little story for you to consider:
      Butch the Rooster:

      Sarah was in the fertilized egg business. She had several hundred young pullets and ten roosters to fertilize the eggs.
      She kept records and any rooster not performing went into the soup pot and was replaced.
      This took a lot of time, so she bought some tiny bells and attached them to her roosters. Each bell had a different tone, so she could tell from a distance which rooster was performing. Now, she could sit on the porch and fill out an efficiency report by just listening to the bells.
      Sarah’s favorite rooster, old Butch, was a very fine specimen but, this morning she noticed old Butch’s bell hadn’t rung at all! When she went to investigate, she saw the other roosters were busy chasing pullets, bells-a-ringing, but the pullets hearing the roosters coming, would run for cover.

      To Sarah’s amazement, old Butch had his bell in his beak, so it couldn’t ring. He’d sneak up on a pullet, do his job, and walk on to the next one.
      Sarah was so proud of old Butch, she entered him in a show and he became an overnight sensation among the judges.
      The result was the judges not only awarded old Butch the “No Bell Peace Prize” they also awarded him the “Pulletsurprise” as well.

      Clearly old Butch was a politician in the making. Who else but a politician could figure out how to win two of the most coveted awards on our planet by being the best at sneaking up on the unsuspecting populace and screwing them when they weren’t paying attention?

      Vote carefully in the next election. You can’t always hear the bells.\
      (BUT, Slabbed.org helps to keep you informed and aware, so you have NO excuse NOT to Vote the Trash Out!!!

      1. Charlene

        Based on what I was told a long time ago I think it was a little bit of both but I don’t remember the exact details. I think it’s pretty clear the BFI system is alive and well at the DMR.

      2. Charlene

        That’s an interesting observation. Have you heard that none of the crooks have paid their restitution back? If you have information on this please let us know cause I’ve been wondering. Perhaps Stacey Pickering could inform the public of the current status and what he has done to recover the money. Of course we can’t count the walkers because they are unable to work in their current situation and I thought bill walker and Ziegler had a payment plan already set up. I could be wrong.

        1. The tweeting that I have been hearing is that “sweet deals” are being made for the restitutions, but no specifics yet. It would be nice if Mr. Pickering would provide information on who has paid what to whom and when. You would think, that as a State Auditor, that would be his top priority and would be a main portion of his elected position, wouldn’t you???

      3. Ms. Silkwooder–I’ve read your comments for a long time and I enjoy your honesty. The former PR employee you are speaking of was deliberately sought out and prosecuted while others were saved because of their political connections. I haven’t heard a peep about Tina Shumate. Quite frankly I can’t even think of anyone who may care about her other than her family and Phil Bryant. I’m not sure if you know but she was an avid campaigner for the Republican Party and her family is infested with political connections. Eye-Spy had a good point about asking Mr. Pickering what’s really going on. If the truth were to come out, he would have a lot of questions to answer from the people and families he destroyed.

        1. Thank you for the kind words. And I believe that you are correct about your assessment of Pickering. It is obvious that his daring act of creeping off in the night with records that Judge Schloegel ordered him to turn over to the Sun Herald was and act of desperation. Had those records been made public, he and the ones he was covering for would all be in prison right now. It appears to me, that the the only one who has paid any price so far is Bill Walker. He took the big fall, while there are many others who did as much as he did that are still holding court and drinking coffee with their peeps every morning. How about that Mississippi Power peeps? Coast legislators? DMR commissioners? Philly and Billy??? Mr. Boyd??? Mr. McKay?? Joey Boy Cloyd??? Tiny Tyke General???

  3. No doubt that Pickering has destroyed lives of innocent victims.

    Let’s go Pritchett–you have been given the goods now let’s unload on this son of a bitch!!!!

    It looks like Pickering is now going after his former opponent:

    https://m.facebook.com/pritchettforauditor

    The story says Stacey doesn’t decide who gets audited and it’s done in the back of the house. Ya. I’m sure everything the auditor does is done in back of the house.

    The truth is. There is no audit plan. It’s all politically driven.

  4. Has anything surfaced about this Spraggin’s ordeal as of late? Any new details indicating one way or the other? Of course, I didn’t mean any new details coming out of the DMR. 😉

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