Warrant: Inmate abuse and cover-up at Fresno County Jail

Friday, March 27, 2015
Warrant: Inamte abuse and cover-up at Fresno County Jail
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A Fresno County jail inmate is claiming abuse at the hands of a jail doctor

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno County jail inmate is claiming abuse at the hands of a jail doctor, and sheriff's detectives are looking into whether the new medical contractor tried to cover it up.

Daniel Trebas hasn't had an easy time in the Fresno County jail. The convicted sex offender has served his punishment, plus about 15 extra years after he was deemed mentally disordered. And after seven years in a wheelchair, he says a doctor ordered it taken away as retaliation for his previous complaints against her.

Jail staff overrode the doctor's order and gave it back after 37 days, and then a detective started digging into whether his rights were violated. What he found, according to a search warrant Action News uncovered, was a man who was a victim of dependent care abuse whose medical records had been falsified and altered.

"Was there fraud in covering up the fact that a wheelchair was taken away?" said ABC30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi. "And if it was taken away, was it for medical reasons or was it for some kind of punishment or retribution?"

Capozzi says a cover-up could be as bad as the original crime, forcing prosecutors to file felony charges.

But he says the case could be hard to prove. Although the detective says jail administrators acknowledge the records appear to be altered, tracking down who did it could be hard.

And then there's Trebas.

"The problem in this case may be the inmate himself," Capozzi said. "If he's at Atascadero [State Hospital] he may have some issues himself in whether or not he is accurately seeing the facts here in a very objective manner."

State regulators have no record of any prior administrative actions against the doctor. She works for Corizon Health, which took over jail medical services not even four months before on a contract worth as much as $100 million. The deal was supposed to clean up inmate medical care and save the county money, but it may not last long.

"I'm sure there's something in the contract that says if there's any kind of criminal acts or any kind of fraud, the county has the right to rescind the contract," Capozzi said. "That may happen."

The sheriff's office told us they couldn't comment on the case beyond what we already found in the warrant because it's an ongoing investigation.

Corizon spokesman Stuart Ramsey told us : ""Out of respect for patient confidentiality, we are not able to discuss details of the care provided to any individual or actions taken in any individual case. What we can say is that, as a physician-led company, our top priority is providing the highest-quality care to our patients. This is both our ethical responsibility and the core of our business."