Disability News Service, Resources, Diversity, Americans with Disabilities Act; Local and National.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Grandmother advocating for her Granddaughter with Cerebral Palsy, was told to leave a Shopping Mall because of the Wheels On Her Walker

Please read the following email account of what happened this week to my eight-year-old granddaughter who has cerebral palsy and tell me where I might find assistance in making sure no other handicapped child is subjected to this treatment by a Peterson Co. employee.
The following was shared by American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). 25 years after the ADA was signed and there is still so much work left to be done. Thank you, Mable, for your leadership and advocacy.
Ability Chicago Info supports Mable Duke for advocating  for her granddaughter, and all with disabilities, TY.
This was my initial email to the Peterson Co. representative:
Mable Duke
To: avanover@petersoncos.com Cc: Peyton Duke Amber Parnell
Action Required
Ms. Vanover,
My name is Mable Duke and I am the grandmother of Brianna Duke. She is eight years old and was born with Cerebral Palsy. I know you are well aware that yesterday while she was playing with her six year old cousin at the Virginia Gateway Plaza that she was told to leave repeatedly by a security guard under your supervision because of the wheels on her walker. She is not able to walk at all without her walker. Despite the fact that the babysitter and several bystanders tried to explain to the man that the “no wheels” rule applied to toys like skateboards and bikes (as pictured on the sign) not a device for the handicapped, a public scene ensued and my precious granddaughter who has endured much in her eight years of life was left in tears. I know you came and apologized. I know you made the security guard apologize. I’m sorry, that simply isn’t enough. I want to know what disciplinary measures have been taken against the security guard involved and I want to know what precautions have been put in place to make certain no other handicapped child has to suffer this treatment.
If I haven’t received a satisfactory response in writing from you within 24 hours I will be asking the Americans with Disabilities Act U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division http://www.ada.gov/contact_drs.htm
, The American Association of People with Disabilities http://www.aapd.com/take-action/spea
 k-out/, and the Washington Post metro@washpost.com for assistance in making sure this never happens again.
Believe me, I’ve never been more sincere in my life.
Mable Duke
This is the initial response I received from a Peterson Co. representative.
Joanna Caputi
To: Mable Duke
Virginia Gateway
Dear Ms. Duke,
Thank you for your email. Please accept our sincerest apology for your family's negative experience at Virginia Gateway yesterday and any sadness that it caused your granddaughter. I can assure you that we have met with our Security team to review all fountain rules to insure that this does not happen again. We have specifically outlined with our team the policy on "wheels" in that area, which does not apply to any medical equipment or medical devices.
I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you or a member of your family directly. Please feel free to contact me at 703-227-0894, or if you would prefer to provide your phone number, I can contact you.
We would also like the opportunity to do something special for Brianna. If she has a favorite restaurant at Virginia Gateway, we’d be happy to host her and your family as our guest.
Thank you.
Joanna Caputi
JOANNA CAPUTI | Regional Marketing Director
12500 Fair Lakes Circle | Suite 400 | Fairfax, VA 22033
(P) 703.227.0894 | (F) 703.631.6481

This was my first reply to the Peterson Co. representative.
Mable Duke
To: Joanna Caputi Cc: Peyton Duke Parnell, Amber
Re: Virginia Gateway
Ms. Caputi,
Let me make something abundantly clear to you. I couldn’t be more insulted by your response. We do not want a free dinner. We do not want compensation of any sort. Period. What we do want is what I requested earlier. 1. We want to know what disciplinary measures have been taken against the security guard who acted with total insensitivity, ignorance and cruelty yesterday, and; 2. We want to know what precautions have been put in place to make certain no other handicapped person has to be subjected to this treatment again.
You have at best marginally addressed question number two and totally ignored question number one. That simply is not acceptable.
To give your company the benefit of the doubt, I contacted Ms. Vanover before I took any further action. This isn’t about trying to “get” something from you. It is about protecting our children and ensuring that all individuals, handicapped or otherwise, are treated with consideration, respect and dignity. The security guard involved in this incident is clearly incapable of doing so and I will do whatever is necessary to make certain no other young child is subjected to such an emotionally traumatic and potentially scarring experience by him.
Unfortunately you’ve left me to choice but to move forward with contacting the media and the agencies in place to protect handicapped individuals to ask for assistance.
Mable Duke
Then I received this follow-up email from the Peterson Co. representative.
Joanna Caputi
To: Mable Duke
RE: Virginia Gateway
Dear Ms. Duke
I am so sorry that my response was interpreted as anything other than sincere. We have taken the appropriate disciplinary measures and have reviewed with all security team members that our policy does not apply to medical equipment of any kind. I can assure you that we have taken this very seriously and have taken steps to make sure it doesn't happen again.
I welcome the opportunity to speak directly with you or a member of your family. I can be reached at 703-227-0894.
JOANNA CAPUTI | Regional Marketing Director
12500 Fair Lakes Circle | Suite 400 | Fairfax, VA 22033
(P) 703.227.0894 | (F) 703.631.6481

This was my final response to the Peterson Co. representative.
Mable Duke
To: Joanna Caputi Cc: Parnell, Amber Peyton Duke
Re: Virginia Gateway
Ms. Caputi,
It’s funny I should hear from you as I sit here preparing the information to distribute to the media and disability advocacy agencies. In reading your messages, I realize that I may have not been as specific as I should have been when telling you exactly what my family wants to see happen as a result of the treatment my granddaughter was subjected to by one of your employees. I will outline that for you now, this one time, as it is what I’m asking the media and ADA for help in attaining.
The security guard that yelled repeatedly “Can’t you read?” at the 24-year-old family friend and former au pair that was babysitting my granddaughters needs to be fired from his position. That same guard when asked who his supervisor was insisted belligerently “I am the supervisor!” until a bystander stepped in and rephrased the question and demanded the name of the company he worked for. This man does not need to be in any job where he is in a public position of authority and allowed to use his own judgment (or lack thereof). Your company training needs to be updated and a memorandum sent to all employees regarding disability awareness and sensitivity, along with properly identifying medical equipment and devices. We want documented proof of this. Finally, the sign in the promenade needs to be updated and clearly state that it DOES NOT apply to medical equipment. Please note that nowhere in this message or my earlier messages was there any request or desire for the “free lunch” you so insultingly offered, or any other kind of personal compensation. As a retired CEO I’m astounded at what lengths are required to simply get your company to do the right thing.
I will not be talking to you, Ms. Caputi, nor will any of my family members. A verbal response means nothing and cannot be documented. That’s why I asked you to respond in writing to begin with and it’s also why ADA legislation was passed and advocacy groups created. When people like you won’t do what’s right, people like me don’t have to fight that battle alone. Unless you can provide proof you have, in fact, already taken the actions as outlined above, then there is no further need of a response from you, written or otherwise. You can provide it later to the proper authorities when they get in touch with you.
Mable Duke

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Guides to Information & Resources — Disability Benefits, Housing Assistance, Long-Term Care and Much More

                          Get Answers to Your Questions
Disability.gov links to more than 10,000 national, state and local resources. That’s a lot of information, which is why we developed a series of guides on the topics you have told us are most important to you. Whether you’re looking for information about disability benefits,housing assistance, job training programs or financial help for families with low incomes, Disability.gov’s Guides to Information & Resources are a good place to start. Choose from among 14 guides that cover everything from home health care to programs for caregivers to assistive technology and much more. Each guide begins with a series of “quick links” that answer many frequently asked questions. Disability.gov’s Guides to Information & Resources also connect you to information about organizations near you that offer programs and services that promote the inclusion and full participation of people with disabilities in their communities.

Disability.gov’s Guides to Information & Resources

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

U.S. Access Board Advisory Committee Submits Report on Rail Car Accessibility

 Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee Members
 Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee Members
The Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee (RVAAC) has submitted to the U.S. Access Board a final report on refreshing the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Transportation Vehicles. The committee's report provides detailed recommendations on updating provisions in the guidelines for fixed guideway systems, including rapid, light, commuter, intercity, and high speed rail. 

Recommendations from the committee address rail car communications, boarding and alighting, on-board circulation, seating, and rooms and spaces.

The advisory committee, which the Board organized in 2013, includes representatives from advocacy organizations, transit operators, rail car manufacturers, and other stakeholders. Committee members reviewed the existing ADA guidelines and identified areas that need to be updated because of accessibility issues, advances in technology, changes in car design, and other factors.

Committee and subcommittee chairs briefed members of the Board on the report at a presentation on July 29. They highlighted key findings and recommendations of the report. These include recommendations for enhanced communication access through hearing induction loops, visual message systems, and tactile signs, greater use of level boarding, reducing gaps between vehicles and station platforms, and improved toilet room design.

At a later date, the Board will propose updates to its ADA vehicle guidelines based on the committee's report and will make them available for public comment. The Board is currently finalizing updates to sections of the vehicle guidelines covering buses and vans which were previously released for public comment.

The committee's report and related material is available on the Board's website at www.access-board.gov/rvaac. For further information, contact Paul Beatty at rvaac@access-board.gov, (202) 272-0012 (v), or (202) 272-0072 (TTY).

Pace Suburban Bus Sued by Chicago woman with disabilities over fall off a unsecured paratransit access ramp

Vera Jackson filed a lawsuit July 10 in the Circuit Court of Cook County against Pace Suburban Bus Division, Regional Transportation Authority and Cook DuPage Transportation (CDT), citing negligence. 
as reported by CookCountyRecord.com, by Kevin Shepke | July 29, 2015
According to the claim, Jackson, an individual with disabilities and physical impairment, while on her way to West Maypole Ave. in Chicago's East Garfield Park neighborhood, suffered severe and permanent injuries after she stepped off the bus onto an access ramp that was not securely level to the ground and not properly secured at the top of the left hand side, which caused Jackson to lose her balance and fall, causing her to suffer the injuries.

Jackson is seeking damages of more than $50,000, plus costs, for the negligence she alleges against Pace for not properly training the agent and driver properly to operate the bus access ramp to assist patrons with disabilities, the claim states.

Cook County Circuit Court case number 2015L00703 


Brandon Mendenhallis a Musician with Cerebral Palsy is changing how the world views his disability.

In hard rock, Brandon Mendenhall found salvation in the form of acceptance, friendship and, for the past six years, a creative outlet.

published by The Burbank Leader,article By Chad Garland | March 2015
“It saved my life,” Mendenhall said, surrounded by members of The Mendenhall Experiment, the band he formed in 2008.

In August, the group signed a contract for worldwide distribution with Lucent Records in Orange County. They have an album slated for release this spring, and a documentary about Mendenhall is soon to follow.

The trailer for the documentary is set to debut Saturday when the nonprofit United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties presents Mendenhall its first-ever Trailblazer Award at its sold-out Art of Care dinner in Santa Monica.

“When we heard this kid’s story, he almost created this award for us,” said Ronald Cohen, president and chief executive of the nonprofit.

Mendenhall, 31, was in Burbank with his band Friday to visit an apartment complex at San Fernando Boulevard and Providencia Avenue that Cohen’s group operates for people with disabilities. It’s less than a mile from the Home Depot where he worked and 2 miles from where he lived up until September, when he moved to Riverside to be closer to his bandmates.

Had you spotted Mendenhall in town, you’d have seen the long hair, the soul patch under his lip, the black T-shirt, black shades and black skull-shaped tattoo on his hand — the symbol of his band. In short, you’d have seen a familiar hard-rock image.

But what you might not have seen, not right away anyway, is not so common among rock guitarists — Mendenhall has cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that makes body movement and muscle control difficult. It’s permanent, but it’s not degenerative.

YouTube Published by Daytrippers Charity | July 27, 2015

The band, he said, is literally his experiment to answer the question: “Can a kid with cerebral palsy learn how to write songs, form a band and make [it] a success in the music industry?”

Growing up in a trailer park in Illinois, where his grandparents raised him, Mendenhall’s condition was so bad, he could hardly use his left hand. A doctor said playing an instrument would be out of the question, so his grandfather clipped the strings on his toy guitar and hid it away in a closet.

Neighborhood kids picked on him for his slurred speech and awkward movements. They once tied him to a neighbor’s porch by his neck like a dog. That neighbor, who had helped nurture Mendenhall’s affinity for hard rock, chased the bullies down and gave them a “stern talking to,” he said.

Everyone in the band is a bit of a misfit who’s found a home in rock ‘n’ roll, said Gregg Journigan, their manager. For example, bass player Nate Stockton is hearing- and vision-impaired and had to spend years in speech therapy. Stockton said he’s not sure if he was ever bullied, though, and joked he “couldn’t hear them anyway.”

Even after finding a place in the heavy-metal crowd, though, Mendenhall still faced obstacles not only because of his condition, but because of the way others viewed the hard-rock scene. A teacher accused him of using drugs and said he’d never amount to anything. His grandfather once told him “no grandson of mine will be a musician.”

The elder Mendenhall made the remark after catching his grandson, then about 19, practicing on a guitar he’d bought with a secret $1,000 loan from his grandmother.

Cohen said Mendenhall’s grandfather was trying to protect him from what he thought would be a crushing failure. A lot of parents of kids with cerebral palsy think in terms of “won’t be able to,” Cohen said, but Mendenhall exemplifies what can be done.

“He is such an inspiration to the parents,” Cohen said. “It really changes how a parent then sees the world with a kid with a disability.”

The rebuke from his grandfather only inspired the younger Mendenhall to try harder, and teaching himself to play guitar actually rehabilitated his left hand. But his grandfather died before Mendenhall’s early band performances in Illinois, less than two years before the formation of the band that carries the family name.

“I don’t know how I’ll do it yet, but I’m going to make you proud of me,” Mendenhall recalls telling his grandfather on his deathbed in 2006.

After six different lineups in nearly six years, it wasn’t until last year that the current incarnation of the group gelled. Less than a year later, after placing second in the Warped Tour Battle of the Bands last summer, they were signed with Lucent Records.

In a way, it’s a vindication, but it’s also a fulfillment of his promise.

“Look, Pop,” Mendenhall said. “I made it.”

# TY to Richelle for sharing!

FTA 2015 Report: Accessible Transit Services for All, assessment of ADA Paratransit Service

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has posted a report, Accessible Transit Services for All, that provides a fresh look at paratransit  and how agencies can improve service effectiveness and cost efficiency, a timely release with this week’s 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The report presents successful strategies for providing ADA-compliant paratransit. Featuring an assessment of ADA paratransit service design models, as well as an in-depth analysis of procurement and contracting practices, the report also identifies operational practices that can enhance service quality and cost efficiency, and successful examples of alternative, inclusive service designs that can provide improved transportation for all riders. 

The report is funded by the FTA through a cooperative agreement with the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund and FTA’s Office of Research, Demonstration, and Innovation.

Justice Department Reaches Agreement with Carnival Cruise Lines Over Multiple Disability (ADA) Violations

from a Press Release.

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Justice Department Reaches Agreement with Carnival Corp. Over ADA Violations by Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises

The Justice Department and Carnival Corp. today announced a comprehensive, landmark settlement agreement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to advance equal access for individuals with disabilities who travel on cruise ships.
Carnival Corp. is one of the largest cruise companies in the world, owning and operating several cruise lines.  Today’s settlement agreement addresses accessibility on 62 ships among the Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises brands and implements accessibility standards and policies to provide greater access on cruises that embark and disembark from U.S. waters or those of its territories.
“The ADA guarantees people with disabilities equal access to public accommodations,” said head of the Civil Rights Division, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta.  “Cruise ships are ‘floating cities’ and provide a wide range of facilities and activities subject to the requirements of the ADA, such as lodging, dining, entertainment, recreation, and medical facilities.  People with disabilities who travel must be able to count on getting the accessible cabin they reserve, and the cruise lines must provide equal access to the choice of amenities and attractions that passengers expect from a major cruise company like Carnival Corporation.”
“This landmark ADA agreement will enable individuals with disabilities the opportunity to equally enjoy a full range of cabins and services that previously were unavailable while vacationing on cruise ships,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida.
The settlement agreement is the result of an investigation of complaints by the Justice Department.  Carnival officials cooperated with the department throughout the process.  Among the complaints were allegations that the company failed to: properly provide and reserve accessible cabins for individuals with mobility disabilities; reasonably modify policies, practices and procedures to accommodate individuals with disabilities; afford individuals with disabilities the same opportunities to participate in programs and services, including embarkation and disembarkation; and provide effective communication during muster and emergency drills.
Under the agreement:
  • 42 existing ships, and 7 ships in various stages of design and construction, will be surveyed and remediated to comply with the ADA regulations.  Accessible cabins will be dispersed among the various classes of accommodations and will provide a range of accessible features, including features for guests with hearing impairments;
  • Three percent of the cabins on 49 ships will be accessible according to three levels of accessibility: fully accessible cabins, fully accessible cabins with a single side approach to the bed, and ambulatory accessible cabins.  The remaining 13 ships will be subject to possible remediation if they continue to be in service in U.S. ports four years after the agreement is entered.
  • Carnival Corp. has created brand standards that address an array of accessibility issues and policies to implement them;
  • Carnival Corp. will provide specific ADA training to employees and managers;
  • Reservations systems will allow individuals with disabilities to reserve accessible cabins and suites with specific available options and amenities, and to guarantee reservations for accessible cabins;
  • The accessibility of Carnival Corp. websites and mobile applications will comply with WCAG 2.0 Level A and AA;
  • Carnival Corp. will appoint an ADA compliance officer at the executive level, two ADA responsibility officers – one for Carnival Cruises and one for Holland America Group, which includes Holland America Line and Princess Cruises, and ADA shipboard officers for each ship who are responsible for resolving ADA-related issues that arise at sea; and
  • Carnival Corp. will pay a civil penalty of $55,000 to the United States and $350,000 in damages to individuals harmed by past discrimination.
Today’s settlement represents the first time the Department of Justice has required a cruise company to provide a minimum number of accessible cabins, to conduct a survey of its ships and to develop a remediation plan to comply with the ADA.  It is also the first time that an agreement under the ADA has specifically identified three types of accessible cabins on cruise ships – fully accessible cabins, fully accessible cabins-single side approach and ambulatory accessible cabins – that will be available to individuals with disabilities.
People interested in finding out more about the ADA or this settlement agreement can call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or access the ADA website at http://www.ada.gov.

EEOC Sues IDEX Corporation for Disability Discrimination

from a PRESS RELEASE | July 27, 2015

Company Terminated Regional Manager Because of His Disability, Federal Agency Charged

MIAMI - IDEX Corporation, a manufacturer and supplier of fluidics systems with locations nationwide, including multiple posts in Florida, violated federal anti-discrimination law when it terminated a regional manager based on his disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed on July 27, 2015. The EEOC's lawsuit coincides with the ADA's 25th anniversary on July 22, 2015.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, Gregorio Reyes successfully performed his regional manager position at IDEX Corporation, including during the six months in 2011 when he underwent chemotherapy to treat the cancer with which he was diagnosed the year before. During the period of his treatment, however, Reyes's supervisors repeatedly asked invasive questions about his illness and questioned his ability to perform job tasks. On Dec. 8, 2011, IDEX fired Reyes because of his disability, EEOC says.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits disability discrimination. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida (Civil Action No. : 2:15-cv-00419-JES-CM), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks injunctive relief to prevent any further discriminatory practices, as well as back pay and compensatory and punitive damages.
"EEOC is fully committed to fighting all kinds of discrimination based on disabilities, including cancer," said Ozzie Black, acting director of EEOC's Miami District Office.
Robert Weisberg, regional attorney for EEOC's Miami Office, added, "A longtime employee who continues to successfully perform his or her job responsibilities should not be fired because he has been diagnosed with a medical condition such as cancer. The ADA prohibits such conduct, and EEOC takes seriously its responsibility to enforce the law."
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. The Miami District Office's jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

Illinois police officer helping woman with a developmental disability find her way home, nice video

Illinois -- On Friday (July 24th) evening, the Bloomingdale Police Department said they received a call concerning a 21-year-old woman with mental disabilities who had wandered away from her home. The police found her walking along a roadway.

“She was visibly scared and upset and would not come with the police,” the description of the encounter, which was posted with the video, said.

After Giovenco was able to calm her down, she told him that she just wanted to walk the “trails,” police said. The officer told her that he would walk with her, and she agreed to return home.

Officer Giovenco escorted her back, “which really seemed to put her at ease,” the police said on the Facebook post.

In the video, the uniformed officer is seen towering over the woman as they take a leisurely walk back toward her home.

“You won’t ever see this kind of stuff, police doing really great things in their community, on the mainstream news channels because it doesn’t fit their agenda. Keep up the good work guys,” Facebook user Brandon Kachmarik said in a comment.

“Thank you Brandon – We as the Police nation wide have a tough job, we truly care and want to do what is right. I am proud of all of our staff, the efforts of Officer Giovenco is a small example of what we do,” Chief of Police Frank Giammarese said in response to the previous comment on the Bloomingdale Police Department Facebook account.
Officer Giovenco has been with the police department since March 2015.

PETITION for Wheelchair Access On Commercial Airlines

wanted to share this info, Wheelchair Access On All Commercial Airlines is long overdue...

Wheelchair Access On Commercial Airlines

To be delivered to The United States House of Representatives, The United States Senate, and President Barack Obama
Please push the Federal Aviation Association to require airlines to provide designated wheelchair accessible spaces on every commercial aircraft, which will allow passengers to remain safely seated in their personal wheelchairs.


Dear President Obama and Congressional Leaders: 

The Air Carrier Access Act of 1986, Title 49, Section 41705 of the U.S. Code, prohibits commercial airlines from discriminating against passengers with disabilities. The act itself, however, does not have any provision to protect the rights of those who, because of their disabilities and for safety reasons, cannot sit in a standard airline passenger seat and must remain seated in their personal wheelchairs like myself. These individuals are prevented from traveling any way except by land vehicles, trains, or ships. This constitutes a blatant infringement on their civil rights and access to affordable and expedient transportation. 

We, the undersigned, propose that every commercial aircraft have one to two removable passenger seat(s), in the front row of every aircraft, with a 4-point air cargo system underneath (identical to the system used in the U.S. Air Force cargo transport aircraft) to fasten each wheelchair securely to the floor of the cabin. An additional safety belt will be required around the waist of each wheelchair user to secure them in their seats. This proposed set up will guarantee the accessibility and safety of every passenger on board. 

Such implemented change is an economically sound investment for air carriers. The large and growing market of people with disabilities has $175 billion in discretionary spending, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Additionally, The New York Times reported that spending by travelers with disabilities exceeds $13.6 billion annually. I know that I personally spend approximately $5,000/ year on vacations. We estimate that this amount will increase significantly once individual aircraft become more wheelchair accessible. 

Please amend the Air Carrier Act of 1986 and push the Federal Aviation Administration to require airlines to designate wheelchair accessible spaces on every commercial aircraft. 


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

"The Movement" In Honor Of the 25th Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, 4 Wheel City - Empowering Music Video

In Honor Of the 25th Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, 4 Wheel City (The Movement for Improvement), releases a empowering music video for their song, "THE MOVEMENT", which raises awareness and advocates for accessibility for people with disabilities.
YouTube by 4WheelCityTV Published on Jul 26, 2015
DOWNLOAD ON ITUNES https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the..

Detroit Home Health Care Agency Owners Zafar Mehmood, and Badar Ahmadani Convicted in $33 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

from a PRESS RELEASE | July 27, 2015

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Monday, July 27, 2015

Detroit-Area Home Health Care Agency Owners Convicted in $33 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

Two home health care agency owners were convicted today of various offenses based on their roles in a $33 million Medicare fraud scheme, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office.
Zafar Mehmood, 49, of Ypsilanti, Michigan, was convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, four counts of health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of money laundering.  Mehmood also was convicted of two counts of obstruction of justice related to his theft of evidence from an HHS-OIG facility.  Badar Ahmadani, 48, also of Ypsilanti, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks. 
According to evidence presented at trial, from 2006 through 2011, Mehmood and Ahmadani participated in a scheme in which they obtained patients by paying cash kickbacks to recruiters, who in turn paid cash to patients to induce them to sign up for home health care with Mehmood’s companies: Access Care Home Care Inc., Patient Care Home Care Inc., Hands On Healing Home Care Inc. and All State Home Care Inc.  The evidence also showed that the defendants paid kickbacks to physicians to refer patients to the defendants’ companies for unnecessary home health care services.
The evidence introduced at trial further established that the defendants and their co-conspirators falsified records to make it appear as if the patients qualified for and received the services for which Medicare was billed over $33 million during the course of the conspiracy.  The evidence also showed that Mehmood used a co-conspirator to launder the proceeds of the fraud through shell companies under his control.          
Trial evidence also demonstrated that, while visiting an HHS-OIG facility during pretrial release, Mehmood stole documents and materials that law enforcement authorities seized during the execution of search warrants at his companies.  Law enforcement subsequently recovered the missing documents and materials during the execution of a search of Mehmood’s jail cell.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, a joint effort of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Michigan and the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.  This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Niall M. O’Donnell and A. Brendan Stewart, and Senior Trial Attorney Nathan Dimock, Assistant Chief Jennifer L. Saulino, Assistant Chief Catherine K. Dick and Deputy Chief Gejaa T. Gobena of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. 
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged over 2,300 defendants who collectively have billed the Medicare program for over $7 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

Detroit Health Care Agencies Owner Mohammed Sadiq Sentenced to Prison for $12.6 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

from a PRESS RELEASE | July 24, 2015

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Friday, July 24, 2015

Owner of Detroit Home Health Care Companies Sentenced to 80 Months in Prison for Role in $12.6 Million Fraud Scheme

A Michigan resident was sentenced to 80 months in prison late yesterday for his leading role in a $12.6 million Medicare fraud and tax fraud scheme.  Eleven other individuals have been convicted in this case.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office and Special Agent in Charge Jarod Koopman of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Detroit Field Office made the announcement.
Mohammed Sadiq, 67, of Oakland County, Michigan, pleaded guilty on March 13, 2015, to one count of health care fraud and one count of filing a false tax return.  In addition to imposing the prison term, U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood of the Eastern District of Michigan ordered Sadiq to pay $14.1 million in restitution and entered a forfeiture judgment for the same amount, which represents the proceeds traceable to his criminal conduct.
Sadiq owned and directed operations at two home health care companies in Detroit.  In connection with his guilty plea, Sadiq admitted that, working with co-conspirators, he billed Medicare for home health services that were not provided.  Sadiq also admitted to paying kickbacks to patient recruiters in order to obtain the information of Medicare beneficiaries, which he then used to bill Medicare for services that were not medically necessary or were not provided at all.  Sadiq further admitted that he created fake patient files to fool a Medicare auditor by making it appear as if home health services were provided and medically necessary.  Medicare paid $12.6 million for these services.
In connection with his guilty plea, Sadiq also admitted that he received proceeds of the fraud through bank accounts that he controlled, that he withdrew substantial sums for his personal use and that he failed to report these amounts on his individual federal income tax return in 2008.  In total, Sadiq admitted that he owes approximately $1.5 million in taxes, interest and penalties for tax years 2008 through 2010.
This case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG and IRS-CI, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Michigan.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys William Kanellis, Christopher Cestaro, Brooke Harper and Elizabeth Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Hurford of the Eastern District of Michigan.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,300 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $7 billion.  In addition, HHS’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

On 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Chicago Commissioner Karen Tamley Discusses ADA Advancements

Chicago Tonight WTTW 11 (July 27, 2015) Phil Ponce talks with Karen Tamley, Commissioner of Chicago Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD).

Sunday July 26th marked the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, landmark legislation that set standards for everything from accessing buildings and public transportation to mandating equal access in employment.
How has the world changed for the disabled in the last quarter century? Here to discuss that is Karen Tamley, commissioner of the Chicago Mayor's Office for Persons with Disabilities.
For more information and to be part of the anniversary year events, visit The ADA Legacy Project website.

Emergency Communication Strategies Among Responders and People who are Disproportionately Impacted - WEBINAR Aug 13th

Announcing a New Webinar - “ADA National Network Learning Session: Strengthening Emergency Communication Strategies Among Responders and People who are Disproportionately Impacted ”

August 13th, 2015

Webinars begin at 2.30pm ET/1.30pm CT/12.30 pm MT/11.30am PT/8.30am Hawaii.
Registration: Free on-line at http://www.adapresentations.org/registration.php
The ability to receive information and communicate efficiently and effectively with first responders and other health personnel during an emergency or disaster can be essential to survival. Community professionals, organizations and agencies can (and should) strive to increase community resilience as a key component of what they do every day with individuals they support. This presentation will (1) identify those who are disproportionally impacted and discuss the converging communication challenges many face; (2) share information from first responders regarding what strategies work best for them when communication is difficult; and (3) suggest practical ways community professionals can increase community resilience by preparing people with communication issues for emergencies.
Learning objectives:
  • Identify and discuss the impact of converging communication challenges on people with access and functional needs during emergencies.
  • Report the perspectives of some first responders (e.g., fire fighters, EMTs, emergency room personnel) regarding the communication issues they face every day. Discuss strategies they depend upon and how they perceive their training needs.
  • Discuss the role of community professionals, organizations, and agencies who serve individuals with disabilities and other communication challenges in preparing their clients for emergencies.
  • Provide resources for community professionals, people with diablities, and first responders that can decrease communication breakdowns and increase community resilience.
Sarah Blackstone, PhD, CCC-SLP (speech - language pathology), is president of Augmentative Communication, Inc. and a founder/board member of the non-profit 501 (c)(3) Community Emergency Response Volunteers (CERV) of the Monterey Peninsula. She is editor/author of the new book: Patient Provider Communication: Roles for Speech-Language Pathologist and other Health Professionals, which includes a chapter, Integrating Emergency and Disaster Resilience Into Your Everyday Practice, with June Isaacson Kailes. She coordinates the Patient/Provider Communication Forum and website with her husband Harvey Pressman (www.patientprovidercommunication.org).
To view all of the sessions for the coming year, or to see previous sessions, go to http://www.adapresentations.org/schedule.php
The information presented in this webinar is intended solely as informal guidance, and is neither a determination of legal rights or responsibilities by NIDILRR or FEMA.
Copyright © 2015 Pacific ADA Center, All rights reserved.
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Celebrating 25 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act; The White House

from a PRESS RELEASE July 2015
This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the passage of an historic piece of legislation, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For the millions of Americans living with a disability, the ADA provides protection from discrimination and guarantees equal opportunities in order to promote accommodations that can help people live full, productive lives. As someone in long-term recovery from a substance use disorder, I strongly share this ideal.
Just as people with physical disabilities benefit under the ADA, people in recovery from substance use disorders are also protected by this landmark legislation .  Our communities have a lot in common - we both face some of the same discrimination, stigma, and historical restriction of opportunities. Our shared experience brings us together.

With approximately 56.7 million Americans living with a disability and an estimated 21.6 million Americans living with a substance use disorder, we are a significant portion of the US population. 12 Despite our numbers, we still face stigma and discrimination in healthcare, education, housing, and employment. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is working to dismantle the stigma experienced by individuals with substance use disorders, just as the National Council on Disability (NCD) and many others are working to abolish discrimination and stigma surrounding all disabilities.  If we combine our numbers, our voices, and our collective experience, we have the opportunity to make our voices heard in all walks of life.
As we celebrate the ADA, let us commit to join forces to address the common challenges faced by our communities. Together, we can work on increasing access to treatment for all people and create a higher standard of care and accommodations through cultural competency training. We can make a significant impact in destigmatizing disability, encouraging compassion and tolerance, and advocating for equality for all persons.
We can carry out that work today, as we celebrate the ADA. But we can also continue that work as we celebrate National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. Each September, ONDCP joins with the millions of people in recovery to observe Recovery Month, and I want to ask you to join the celebration.  
This year the theme is "Join the Voices for Recovery: Visible, Vocal, Valuable!" 

Together, we can join voices to reduce stigma and spread our shared message of effective treatment and successful recovery for anybody with a substance use disorder or disability.

For more resources and to learn more, please visit these links:


1  2010 Census data, http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf
2  2013 National Drug Use and Health Survey, http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-SR200-RecoveryMonth-2014/NSDUH-SR200-RecoveryMonth-2014.htm