For years Stephen Barrett MD and Robert S. Baratz MD, DDS, PhD have been practically joined at the hip attacking cutting-edge health care practitioners and paradigms.
Opinion by Consumer Advocate Tim Bolen
Barrett with his sleazy website combinations, and Baratz, alleging himself to be the president of the National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF), formed a one-two punch across America. They did it virtually everywhere.
Usually, in a health professional State licensing hearing situation, Barrett files a Complaint against a practitioner victim, and recommends himself, Baratz, or both, as an expert witness. If they are successful in getting a Formal Complaint filed, either or both put that information on their websites, then they seek out local attorneys, near their practitioner victims, to arrange lawsuits against that practitioner, offering, once again, their “expert” services.
Sometimes, as in a group of lawsuits filed supposedly by the NCAHF in California, they filed suit using the NCAHF name, and made themselves paid “expert” witnesses.
However, as it turns out, some, if not most, States could call this activity, Barratry, a criminal act. Texas calls it a Felony of the Third Degree. California lists it as a Misdemeanor. Illinois, on the other hand, calls it a Petty Offense.
So, it was with great joy that I got invited to assist Texas attorney Ronald Armstrong in a hearing before the Texas Medical Board cross-examining the testimony of Robert S. Baratz MD, DDS, PhD (bobbie baratz) on Monday, February 13th, 2012. Baratz was there as a so-called “expert witness” testifying against Autism doctor Jesus Caquias MD, formerly of Care Clinics in Austin. Five Complaints to the Texas Medical Board (that we know of) had been filed against Caquias by Stephen Barrett. Armstrong was VERY clear in his view of what was happening – and intended to pursue it.
“Well, well…” I said to my self. “This is going to be fun…”
So, what in the world is Barratry?
In Illinois Barratry is defined: “(720 ILCS 5/32-11)
Sec. 32-11. Barratry. If a person wickedly and willfully excites and stirs up actions or quarrels between the people of this State with a view to promote strife and contention, he or she is guilty of the petty offense of common barratry; and if he or she is an attorney at law, he or she shall be suspended from the practice of his or her profession, for any time not exceeding 6 months.
In California, Barratry is defined: “California Penal Code Section 158: “Common barratry is the practice of exciting groundless judicial proceedings, and is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months and by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000). California Penal Code Section 159: “No person can be convicted of common barratry except upon proof that he has excited suits or proceedings at law in at least three instances, and with a corrupt or malicious intent to vex and annoy.”
In Texas, Barratry is defined: Penal Code Section 38.12 – a Third Degree Felony. Thomas J. Henry a personal injury attorney writes in his blawg:
“Barratry in Texas
Since the 1800s Texas lawmakers have worked to end illegal solicitation, and the law has undergone multiple updates and revisions. In 1876, the legislature passed its first statute criminalizing barratry. The 1876 statute made it unlawful for any person to willfully instigate or encourage litigation, in which that person had no interest, with the intent to harass the defendant or to bring a false suit with the intent to harass the defendant. In 1901, the statute was amended for the purpose of also making it illegal to stir up litigation by soliciting employment or advancing money to prospective clients to procure employment. In the early years of the statute, attorneys were the only professionals that were forbidden to solicit employment. However, the current statute criminalizes solicitation by a lawyer or a layman for the purpose of obtaining employment for economic gain.”
The actual Texas law says:
- 38.12. BARRATRY AND SOLICITATION OF PROFESSIONAL EMPLOYMENT.(a) A person commits an offense if, with intent to obtain an economic benefit the person:(1) knowingly institutes a suit or claim that the person has not been authorized to pursue;
(2) solicits employment, either in person or by telephone, for himself or for another;
(3) pays, gives, or advances or offers to pay, give, or advance to a prospective client money or anything of value to obtain employment as a professional from the prospective client;
(4) pays or gives or offers to pay or give a person money or anything of value to solicit employment;
(5) pays or gives or offers to pay or give a family member of a prospective client money or anything of value to solicit employment; or
(6) accepts or agrees to accept money or anything of value to solicit employment.
(b) A person commits an offense if the person:
(1) knowingly finances the commission of an offense under Subsection (a);
(2) invests funds the person knows or believes are intended to further the commission of an offense under Subsection (a); or
(3) is a professional who knowingly accepts employment within the scope of the person’s license, registration, or certification that results from the solicitation of employment in violation of Subsection (a).
(c) It is an exception to prosecution under Subsection (a) or (b) that the person’s conduct is authorized by the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct or any rule of court.
(d) A person commits an offense if the person:
(1) is an attorney, chiropractor, physician, surgeon, or private investigator licensed to practice in this state or any person licensed, certified, or registered by a health care regulatory agency of this state;
(2) with the intent to obtain professional employment for himself or for another, sends or knowingly permits to be sent to an individual who has not sought the person’s employment, legal representation, advice, or care a written communication that:
(A) concerns an action for personal injury or wrongful death or otherwise relates to an accident or disaster involving the person to whom the communication is addressed or a relative of that person and that was mailed before the 31st day after the date on which the accident or disaster occurred;
(B) concerns a specific matter and relates to legal representation and the person knows or reasonably should know that the person to whom the communication is directed is represented by a lawyer in the matter;
(C) concerns an arrest of or issuance of a summons to the person to whom the communication is addressed or a relative of that person and that was mailed before the 31st day
after the date on which the arrest or issuance of the summons occurred;
(D) concerns a lawsuit of any kind, including an action for divorce, in which the person to whom the communication is addressed is a defendant or a relative of that person, unless the lawsuit in which the person is named as a defendant has been on file for more than 31 days before the date on which the communication was mailed;
(E) is sent or permitted to be sent by a person who knows or reasonably should know that the injured person or relative of the injured person has indicated a desire not to be contacted by or receive communications concerning employment;
(F) involves coercion, duress, fraud, overreaching, harassment, intimidation, or undue influence; or
(G) contains a false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, or unfair statement or claim.
(e) For purposes of Subsection (d)(2)(E), a desire not to be contacted is presumed if an accident report reflects that such an indication has been made by an injured person or that person’s relative.
(f) An offense under Subsection (a) or (b) is a felony of the third degree.
(g) Except as provided by Subsection (h), an offense under Subsection (d) is a Class A misdemeanor.
(h) An offense under Subsection (d) is a felony of the third degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant has previously been convicted under Subsection (d).
(i) Final conviction of felony barratry is a serious crime for all purposes and acts, specifically including the State Bar Rules and the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure.
Although this story is about what happened in Texas recently, the Illinois and California Barratry definitions are related. Keep that in mind.
In Texas: (a) An individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the third degree (like Barratry) shall be punished by imprisonment in the institutional division for any term of not more than 10 years or less than 2 years. (b) In addition to imprisonment, an individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the third degree may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.
So, what happened at the hearing?
It was fun. However, for the first time in a very long time, bobbie didn’t dive over, or under, a table when I walked into the room. He did look, however, like a triple Valium was guiding his day. I think he knew what was coming, even though I gave no hint I’d be there.
If you are curious, yes, bobbie still dresses like he shops for his clothes at the Salvation Army Store in the poorer part of town. Which, come to think of it, is probably very practical for him, since at some point dry cleaning would not be able to do anything about the kind of stains from sweat exuded from his body, into his clothing, when he gets cross-examined in a court setting. Toxins are, after all, are toxins.
The Texas Medical Board attorney, Lee Bukstein, did make a feeble effort to get me out of the room – but it went nowhere.
To put where we are going with this article into perspective, let me do two things: (1) remind you that the original complaint against Jesus Caquias was filed by bobbie baratz’s buddy Stephen Barrett. To refresh your memory of this situation read through “In Texas (2) – Feds Spit On Barrett’s Claims About Austin’s CARE Clinics…”. Then (2) check out this excerpt below from an earlier article I wrote on the subject. The article, titled “In Texas…” said, in part:
“They found, of course, that the Texas Medical Board had an “Anonymous Complaint” system – meaning that the complainant would be hidden.
They also found out that there was a consistency in the complaints, and that those same complaints ended up on one of Stephen Barrett‘s websites LONG BEFORE the doctor got a copy of it. Local newspapers were notified immediately.
Also, they found out that the so-called “expert witness” against the doctor was, inevitably, the current president of the NCAHF bobbie baratz, the guy with the fake resume. We had put bobbie on trial in Wisconsin, over his credibility – and he didn’t do well. So, as you probably have already guessed, my files on him made their way to Texas, to more than one attorney. (grin here).
Let’s see… Two plus two = four. Four plus four = eight. Barrett plus Baratz = anonymous complaint? Hmmmm.
Funny thing – the Medical Board cases, using bobbie baratz, didn’t do very well. I wonder why? (sarcasm intended). But, the pattern was obvious, so the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, with Andrew Schlafly at the legal helm, stepped in and began the lawsuit. And, as of this month, Discovery has resumed.
Now we can begin:
At the beginning of any court hearing both parties deliver their Opening Statements, detailing the case from both sides. Lee Bukstein, for the Texas Medical Board, of course, vomited the standard Stephen Barrett/bobbie baratz line, depicting Jesus Caquias MD as totally incompetent, dangerous, crazy, and victimizing of desperate parents, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah… Typical quackbuster drivel right out of the book.
Ronald Armstrong politely let him get through it, yawning only now and then. However, when Armstrong began HIS Opening Statement Lee Bukstein began, literally, bouncing up and down on his left ass-cheek, his face turned bright red, and his breathing became almost choking. He simply could not sit still. The blonde woman attorney sitting next to him (name unknown), who previously pawed, touched, simpered at, leaned on (hasn’t Texas heard of “sexual harassment?) Bukstein couldn’t calm him down.
And when Ronald Armstrong blatantly brought up the violation of Texas Barratry law in his Opening Statement Bukstein leaped to his feet, flailed around the center of the room like a string puppet caught in a fan, while nearly screaming at the two Administrative Law Judges begging them to stop Ronald Armstrong from entering this information into the Texas Medical Board Record. Bukstein kept claiming “complainants names are kept anonymous, complainants names are kept anonymous, complainants names are kept anonymous.” Clearly Buckstein was terrified that the facts of this instance of “Barratry” would get into the Record.
Why did Bukstein do this? I think he did it because, as Ronald Armstrong pointed out, the Texas Medical Board was officially notified of this “Barratry” situation in July of 2011 and did nothing about it – making them, and particularly Bukstein, part of the “Barratry.” How is that? Because the Texas law section says “(1) knowingly finances the commission of an offense under Subsection (a);” applies, very likely to Buckstein, AND the entire Texas Medical Board once they were formally, and officially, notified of what was going on.
Things were about to get exciting.
From that point on I was expecting both Bukstein and bobbie baratz to drop dead on the spot, from the stress of the situation.
The essence of the case against Jesus Caquias MD…
The Texas Medical Board (Bukstein) had subpoenaed five patient records, from Caquias, after the Austin Care Clinics had closed, and their records were stored in various places. Several health insurance companies had stopped paying Care Clinics after having been contacted by Barrett and/or Baratz. Caquias responded to the subpoena, with a letter telling the Board that he had not been at the clinic for months, had no ownership of the records, and that they must contact the owner of the clinic with their subpoena. Bukstein did contact the owner who informed them that the thousands of patient records were in a jumble since the clinic lost their lease, and they would do the best they could. Bukstein received, obviously, very little of the records. Not long after the original request the FBI and IRS came in, guns drawn, and seized every box, file, computer, whatever, in sight and hauled them all down to storage claiming, in the press, that they were“investigating for insurance fraud…”
Then, like only in a movie, a small plane dove, intentionally, into the IRS building where the records were stored. The plane story, which made national, and international news, apparently escaped the notice of Bukstein, who further demanded more records even after he was given a copy of the IRS letter to Care Clinics informing them of the damage to the records.
Then, of course, Bukstein filed charges against Caquias claiming that “Caquias had not kept adequate records.” Bukstein brought in none other than bobbie baratz to “review, and report on Caquias’s records…”
Of course, after “investigating for insurance fraud…” the Feds dropped the investigation, finding no cause to proceed further.
So, the essence of the State’s case? “Jesus Caquias is a bad doctor who doesn’t keep adequate records, and practices chelation, and other alternative medicine.” The offered proof? Bobbie baratz says it’s so.
But bobbie baratz, we know, isn’t what one would call an “expert witness.” Or even a knowledgeable one. He has more skeletons in his closet than a mausoleum. For sure, there is the transcript, floating around, of the July 15th and 16th, 2003 “Baratz Credibility Hearing,” ordered by a Judge in Wisconsin. Baratz was shattered, skewered, and punctured in that event – so much so I thought he’d never try to testify again, or that anyone would ever even try to use him again.
But here he is…
Butt-Bouncing Bukstein’s Belligerent Bad-acting…
Although this was a VERY SERIOUS Texas Medical Board hearing with serious consequences looming, there were, for me, some very funny parts, especially concerning the antics of Lee Bukstein. Watching him bounce on his left ass-cheek virtually every day made me wonder if there is such a thing as “ass-cheek therapy.” This boy would have needed it.
During Ronald Armstrong‘s beginning of Baratz’s cross-examination, the veins in Bukstein’s head began to stick out, especially when Armstrong asked Baratz if he had contacted his own attorney about the Barratry issue. Once again, Bukstein, got ready to leap to his feet, his breath coming in gasps, while Armstrong sat there calmly, his words, and in fact every letter in every word, raising Buckstein’s blood pressure another point, and causing another left ass-cheek bounce. Finally, Bukstein was on his feet again, darting around like a rat trying to avoid a cat, almost whining, begging the Administrative Law Judges to stop Armstrong’s attack..
But it got even better when Armstrong approached Baratz with a copy of a letter from one of Baratz’s former employers. The letter berated Baratz for “Sexually Harassing his female employees.” Baratz was terminated by this employer shortly thereafter. Here is baratz’s sexual harassment letter for you to read. (More bouncing).
Then Armstrong came again to Baratz, this time handing him a copy of an advertisement for Baratz’s own clinic in a local newspaper – featuring his Hair Removal Services, and Botox offerings. (More bouncing).
But it was Armstrong’s introduction of the Baratz qualifications July 2003 Wisconsin Credibility Hearing for Baratz that caused the biggest uproar. Bukstein literally came unglued. He simply would not let Armstrong talk. He waved his arms, jumped up and down on his feet. Spittle was flying around the room. Bukstein’s whole case was flying apart on just his first witness. Of course, his first witness was bobbie baratz. He should have known better.
There were three other prosecution witnesses. None of any note. In fact, the other “expert witness” for the State more or less came out for the Defense.
Then the Defense started their case…
And, it was a whole different world. There were three parents of Autism children patients testifying, two of which were patients the Texas Medical Board was trying to use against Dr. Caquias. All of them testified about how the records THEY had took up whole file boxes, as many as three, and not the two inches the prosecutor claimed were Caquias’s records. They also talked about the “independent evaluations” of their children’s physical condition before, during, and after their treatment by Caquias – and, consequently, how happy they were with the amazing results.
There were two “expert witnesses” testifying on behalf of the Defense, and they were real.
Then the Nurse Practitioner from the closed Care Clinics testified about how they specifically kept records in the clinic, and that what the prosecutor (Buckstein) was offering as ” patient records” was nonsense.
Then, of course Jesus Caquias MD testified for hours, carefully explaining how the clinic was run, and how patients were treated..
We’ll see what happens.
I can tell you right now, that “barratry” issue is just coming to a head. In my estimation Barrett, Baratz, and certain Texas Medical Board members would do well to find themselves a criminal attorney to help them through the coming months. I see as many as twenty four counts coming up. Maybe more.
There was a reason Ronald Armstrong was getting that official “barratry” language into the Medical Board Record.
Tim Bolen – Consumer Advocate