Tuesday, November 28, 2006

More Trouble Ahead For Coroner's Office

Sources tell AI that Marion County Coroner Kenneth Ackles is preparing to hire a highly controversial forensic pathologist to replace Dr. Stephen Radentz of Forensic Pathology Associates of Indiana as the primary forensic pathologist for the office. Sources tell AI that Joye Carter, a former chief medical examiner for the District of Columbia and Harris County, Texas applied for a medical license in Indiana earlier this month and has visited with Ackles and his staff on several occasions in recent weeks. AI has also learned that Carter has been interviewing pathology assistant candidates to work with her in the office, although Ackles has not publicly announced her hiring. Abdul Hakim-Shabazz is also reporting at Indiana Barrister late this afternoon on the potential hiring of the controversial Carter:

It looks like there's some more controversy brewing for the Marion County Coroner's office. The Office is looking to hire Dr. Joye Carter as its Chief pathologist. However, a check of public records raises some questions about Carter's qualifications. Carter was the Harris County Chief Medical Examiner in Houston, TX. In 2001, the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners fined Carter and she nearly lost her license for allowing an unlicensed pathologist to perform autopsies. In
addition, in 1998 her office was accused of tampering with evidence in the connection of the trial of murder of a 12-year old girl. That same year, workers in her office admitted angry employees stacked bodies on top of each other in the morgue in violation office policy. And in 2000, a federal jury awarded an employee $250,000 for wrongful discharge for exposing illegal activity in the medial examiners office. The Marion County Coroner did not return calls seeking an interview concerning Dr. Carter.

In addition to being fined for using unlicensed pathologists in the Harris County medical examiner's offices and costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in whistle-blower lawsuits filed by former employees, Carter has been criticized for her handling of some high-profile cases, including a quick ruling of death by suicide of former Enron executive Clifford Baxter, who had just agreed to testify on behalf of federal investigators against Enron executives. Carter also handled autopsies on the deaths of Andrea Yates' five children. She took 23 days to determine that Andrea Yates had killed her five children by drowning them.

Aside from her troubles as Harris County's chief medical examiner, Carter left behind a lot of controvsery in her prior job as chief medical examiner for the District of Columbia. As the Washington Post reported at the time of her departure:

In May, unclaimed bodies at the D.C. morgue were piled like cordwood because the crematorium had broken down.

But the backlog of bodies was only part of the story. The morgue was filthy, the ventilation was inadequate, and city officials acknowledged that more than 200 autopsies and 400 toxicology analyses had not been completed because of money, equipment and personnel problems. The morgue's problems, in turn, were hampering police investigations.

Joye M. Carter, the city's chief medical examiner, resigned to take a job in Houston, and city officials had difficulty replacing her and filling other pathologist positions.

An important side-note to Carter's potential hiring are reports she is being offered the position as a contractor and not an employee of the coroner's office as Ackles was insisting of Radentz and his staff at Forensic Pathology Associates. The reason for this is pretty simple. Because the coroner is not a medical doctor, he cannot legally employ Carter or any other licensed physician to perform work as a licensed medical provider.

As controversial as the Carter hiring may prove to be for Ackles, he has more questions to answer about his office's ties to Indiana Autopsy, a local company which performs private autopsy services. Sources tell AI that Billie Elkins, a former pathology assistant for IUPUI and a principal of Indiana Autopsy, approached a principal of Forensic Pathology Associates earlier this year about a potential partnership between the two companies for the work being contracted to Forensic Pathology Associates. After the contractor turned down the offer, Ackles notified the company in June that its contract with the office was being terminated.

According to the source, Indiana Autopsy was advertising recently on a job site for the American Academy of Forensic Science for two forensic pathology positions in a major metropolitan area. The job posting listed the contact person as Joseph Anderson, a board-certified pathologist listed as being associated with Indiana Autopsy according to the company's website. The job posting, which was subsequently removed, may be related to the openings being created by the termination of Forensic Pathology Associates contract.

AI has also learned that Ackles office distributes brochures for Indiana Autopsy through the Marion County Coroner's office, and that deputy coroners working in the office have included in their reports the fact that they have made referrals to responsible family members of deceased persons whose death the office investigated for the benefit of Indiana Autopsy. It is unclear why these improper referrals are being made for the benefit of Indiana Autopsy.

A source tells AI that a person working for Ackles has made less-than-subtle suggestions to forensic pathologists to remove valuable body and tissue parts during the course of conducting an autopsy, which could later be used for medical research. Pharmaceutical companies, such as Eli Lilly, pay substantial sums of money to obtain human body and tissue parts for research; however, consent in the form of a pre-death declaration by the deceased person or from the responsible family member is required before any parts may be harvested. The source tells AI that the forensic pathologists working for Pathology Associates ignored the suggestions from Ackles staff.

The potential hiring of Carter has Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's office on edge because of her past controversies. His office should also be concerned about the inappropriate relationship between the coroner's office and Indiana Autopsy. These are indeed matters which warrant much closer examination. Unfortunately, it appears that things are going to get much worse in the coroner's office before they get better.

UPDATE: Fox 59 News at 10:00 reported on Ackles' efforts to hire Dr. Joye Carter tonight and her controversial past. Former Marion Co. Coroner Dr. John McGoff (R) told Fox 59 News that Carter had applied for employment here in Marion Co. during his tenure, but she was turned down because of her past problems as Harris County's medical examiner.

REVISED UPDATE: WISH-TV reports tonight that the Indiana Medical Licensing Board will hear Dr. Joye Carter's application for a medical license next week. Because of her past troubles in Texas, the Board is asking her to appear in person to answer questions. The report emphasized that she is currently licensed to practice in Texas.

And now the Star has a story about Dr. Carter's pending appointment. Brendan O'Shaughnessy and Jon Murray report that Carter could begin work as soon as the end of next week if it approves her license at its December 7 meeting. They note that Coroner Kenneth Ackles wrote a letter in support of her license. "His letter said Carter’s skills and experience would help the office when a private firm’s contract to conduct autopsies for the county ends Dec. 19."


Anonymous said...

Please AI, get this info to both the prosecutor and mayor's office, as well as every member of the CCC. Our(the deputies) livelihoods and reputations are on the line here...don't let Ackles get away with this.

Anonymous said...

Here's the direct link to the court document in the case against Joye Carter in Texas. Type the link exactly as you see it and look at every page. This sums it up.


Gary R. Welsh said...

The link is broken, anon.

Anonymous said...

Ten Simple Steps for Seeing the Truth on Joye Carter:

1) http://www.tsbme.state.tx.us
2) Click on "Services for Consumers"
3) Click on "Find your physician"
4) Click on "Accept Terms of Usage"
5) Type in name (Carter, Joye)
6) Click on Joye Carter
7) Scroll down to "Restrictions and Actions" section
8) Click on "Board Order Database"
9) Read all 4 documents, esp second one--actual court papers.
10) Make face of horror.

Anonymous said...

A key question for Dr. Ackles:

was there any kind of criteria put together for the search for this person?

was it in writing?

Or was this entire operation a seat-of-the-pants situation, made all the more easy by the fact this woman is available?

No one is saying anything about the other obvious link in this hiring.

Anonymous said...

Fine, let's say it. It's far too late to continue to speak in code at this point in the game. The leadership of the Coroner's office made a statement earlier this year that they wanted to have the only Female African-American Forensic Pathologist on staff (i.e. Joye Carter). It didn't matter that she hasn't been practicing for years. Ask NAME members about her--they won't touch it.

Anonymous said...

Why is it, with Center Township Democrats, that qualifications or misdeeds are overlooked, as long as the applicant is black?

Wait a minute...that's the Congressional Black Caucus's MO, too.

We are not a color blind society after all. (Sigh)

Anonymous said...

Black's who are qualified aren't "controllable" by the corrupt politicians and corrupt officials in this city, they might just get uppity.

Anonymous said...

Damn. That took an ugly turn.

Anonymous said...

People, let's keep race out of this. This isn't about race--it's about ethics and public service and the failures therein. While I understand your points, I think it is very important to keep the media focused on outcomes, not innuendos. Kenneth Ackles has failed Marion County. That is what this is about. Joye Carter is a disgrace as a physician. That is what this is about. Let's stay focused on that, and thank you to everyone who is reading this for your input.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Good point, anon 9:33.

Anonymous said...

Its hard to keep the race issue out of the discussion when that has been a running theme in many of the major pitfalls of the coroner's office. Why was John Linehan fired? So he could be replaced by Alfie Ballew. Why were the pathologist fired? So they could be replaced by Joye Carter and Billy Elkins. Its getting very dark in that office and for no good reason. Very qualified people have been terminated only to be replaced less competent individuals with shady pasts. What's the only common link here? I hate to say it, but its painfully obvious that these actions are racially driven. When John Linehan was let go, I made several predictions about the outcome of the coroner's office. I have yet to be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, the problem in this community is that the majority has been "conditioned" to never talk about race, when it concerns negative things about black. That has caused a cancer to grow in Marion County that really stinks.

It's a double standard. Black politician's racially based policies should not be censored, just as racially based policies by the majority is not censored.

Until we get over the paranoid of talking about it, the Ghetto Mafia will continue to exist in the comfort of media silence and the sick agendas of the Dr. Ackles of the world will continue to grow...with unqualified people in public offices.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you folks about the racism link, but my point in suggesting that race should be kept out of the Ackles investigation is that to focus on it is a distraction from the grand jury proceedings and the evidence at hand. Clearly, John Linehan was fired because his successor called in the "anonymous tip" to WTHR last November. Give me a break--does she really think Indy is that dumb? Also, the Julia Carson political machine is responsible for why most of these people are in office. I'm going to say it: Marion County is a predominantly Caucasian county. Julia Carson is voted into office even after she looks like she has suffered a stroke. She can't carry on a conversation without getting lost, she shuffles instead of walking, and if she were in a doctor's office, they would probably admit her to the hospital for dementia. That is another issue that can be addressed later. Further, the racial mix in the Coroner's office has not escaped my attention. Let's do a roll call:

Coroner: Black
Chief Deputy: Black
Forenic Chief Candidate: Black
Autopsy Assistants: Black
Office Manager: Black

Is there a pattern emerging here? You would have to be a dolt to not think so. In fact, the white employees in the office are the "token whites". Despite that, Kenneth Ackles is on the verge of facing felony charges. He is not above the law. If he gets through the next few weeks and somehow manages to sidestep Brizzi, there are people in Marion County who will be on a fact-finding mission until they drop to bring him and his chief up on charges. The evidence is there. Just wait.

Anonymous said...

So Dr. Carter has a hearing next week? Wonderful, in the mean time I ask "Who in the hell is going to do autopsies between Friday and whenever she gets hired and starts working?" As deputies, we have been told nothing about it. What do I tell detectives and families when there is a case this weekend? We will get the autopsy done in a week or two, then you can bury your loved one or continue your homicide investigation.....I hope and pray every night that Dr. Ackles and his Chief get what they deserve.....Sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said...

Another example of what is happening at MCCO and how Dr. Ackles is trying to cover it all up.......Enjoy

Anonymous said...

So there was apparently a meeting to discuss the state of affairs regarding autopsy service for Marion County. As an employee of the coroner's office, who, by the way, does not lie, cheat, or steal, I would like to have been invited to that meeting. This is the first time I have heard of any type of plan for autopsies to continue. Carl Brizzi knows more than we do! What am I supposed to tell detectives and family members when they ask when an autopsy will be performed? Oh yeah, the same thing I say when they ask me what the hell is going on at our office: shrug my shoulders and say "I don't know. They don't tell me anything." The only way I get any information is to keep watching and reading the news.

Who has seen the commercial where the man apologizes because he works with a bunch of monkeys? That's my job.

Anonymous said...

We should give them the bonecracker's cell phone number and say, "Here, Mr/Mrs. Smith--the Coroner himself requested that he and only he work out those arrangements for you." Since he thinks he somehow doesn't need to answer to anyone (least of all his deputies or the people who voted for him, for that matter), I guess we should heed his words and let him make all the decisions. Let him explain to a family next week why they can't bury their 5 year old because we don't have autopsy capabilities. Actually, I think he'll probably announce on Sat that Ol' Billie will be doing autopsies--what other options does he have, unless he plans on skipping town? Of course, I'm sure the public would love to know that Indiana Autopsy is really the Tissue Bank, so unless we have a cop standing over their shoulder in the autopsy room, who can say that they wouldn't snag come corneas or heart valves for free? Conflict of interest, do you think? That will be Saturday's news story. For now, know the following things: 1) Indiana is on FIRE right now because of the media attention this week, and it's about time; 2) Coroners from all over the state are looking at him tonight and saying, "Thank God that's not my office."; 3) Forensic Pathologists from NY to CA are watching this story break on the internet and wiping their brows with relief that they didn't come here; 4) Alfie Ballew is scanning the newspaper for another job; 5) We all have a few minutes to clean our desks to make everything look nice for the next raid. We do work for a bunch of monkeys, but we are good at it. He will be gone in time and we will still be there doing all the right things all the time, serving the county and bringing families closure.


I have no great power of influence but I briefly worked for this imposter of human and physician. She is as false as the celluloid representations of life we see on the silver screen. Worked for her a very short time, I was close to the former Chief Medical Examiner in Houston, Joseph Jachimcyk and my father had been CEO of the Medical Examiners Office. Didnt take long for Ms Carter ( not Dr) and a vertically challenged elf by the name of Conforti to rid themselves of me, a lowling. They couldn't bear reminders on the legend preceeding them and "found" I had " placed jokes under her door" and asked me to resign. Of course I did not but they terminated me at will, no cause and contested nothing after that. She is fake, I doubt she ever performed an autopsy. Hah, I personally saw her with her personal photographer she had as a puppet. All I ever saw her do was stand at decedents, act like she was making an incision and the photographer would shoot it. Dont trust her. The jokes? Well she is a joke but they were put under her door by a behind kissing investigator who is no longer there either. In fact I believe all memories of the prior regime were removed eventually. I wish her the very worst of luck.

Matt Wingo
Houston Texas

Annon said...

As long as there is an all white society people raise no concern. As soon as a person of color with the same knowledge or greater enters the scene then there is a problem. When will the race issue ever stop! This has been an issue for years and in this new day and time it is still an issue. Dr. Carter is a very intelligent woman. She is definitely qualified or else she would not have a medical degree first of all. You say that she is not qualified because she has had controversy in the past, but is qualification based on the kind of work that you can perform and experience or is it based on controversy. For the person who said she probably never performed and autopsy, well that shows how ignorant you are, maybe you
haven't seen her perform one, but I have seen many of them and she knows what's she is doing. You were fired from the office so your word is nothing because it seems as though you want revenge. If you look into some of the controversy she wasn't convicted of any crime or else her liscense would be taken. Don't be insulted by a SMART BLACK WOMAN, who can do the job better than our other white counterparts, who make into office most of the time on who they know and not their education or skills. In the end if she is qualified she will have the job no matter what anyone says and she will have the final laugh!!!