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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Mental health executive spends $510,000 of public funds on palm reader

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The CEO of a mental health facility in Battle Creek spent $510,000 of public money on a psychic palm reader in Key West, Florida.

Ervin Brinker was fired back in February from his position at Summit Pointe, a provider of mental and behavioral health services to Medicaid recipients in eight southern Michigan counties.

Brinker hid these expenses under the guise of mental health consulting. As CEO, he was able to enter into binding contracts without consulting the company's board. Yet he now faces two counts of Medicaid fraud and one count of embezzlement. Each set of charges carries with it a sentence of up to ten years in prison.

“While it is kind of a funny situation, it is a huge breech of governmental trust,” explained Andrea Bitely, a spokesperson for Michigan’s Attorney General Bill Schuette. “The people that Summit Pointe work with are people with mental and behavioral problems that are seeking help. And this money should have gone to people who are troubled in some way and have a medical need.”

Brinker was arraigned today in East Lansing and released on a $25,000 personal recognizance bond. His next court date is August 12, 2015 in Ingham Circuit Court.

“While it is a funny headline," Bitely says, "there are people that could be hurting.”