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If you're handing over half a million dollars to a psychic palm reader, the least you could get is a heads up that significant prison time is in your immediate future. Such was not the case for Ervin Brinker, who paid his personal psychic fortuneteller $510,000 and was sentenced to at least 32 months in jail last week.
The big problem for Mr. Brinker? Those were public funds he spent on said fortuneteller. We're guessing he didn't get his money's worth.
Brinker was the CEO of Summit Pointe, a community mental health authority in Battle Creek Michigan. Summit Pointe provides mental and behavioral health services to people in five counties. Between May 2011 and November 2012, Summit Pointe dispersed $510,000 over two contracts to a "health care consultant" in Key West, Florida.
An investigation revealed the consultants were a psychic palm reader and her husband, and that Brinker had signed the contracts without board approval. That Brinker had embezzled public money for his personal psychic fortuneteller is bad enough; that they were incompetent psychics makes it worse.
I Can See Your Future
Brinker was fired in February 2015 and in November pleaded guilty to two counts of Medicaid fraud conspiracy and one count of embezzlement by a public officer. Along with his 32-month to 10-year prison sentence, Brinker will owe $510,000 in restitution to Summit Pointe and an additional $510,000 civil penalty to the State of Michigan. No word on whether that will come out of his $2 million public pension, the rights to which he was forced to waive as part of his plea agreement.
So let Mr. Brinker's experience be a lesson: if you're thinking of visiting a psychic, maybe your first question should be, "Am I going to go to jail for this?" Or better yet, ask an attorney first.