A boy with an African heart- The global impact of political corruption
1. For two years, you have been fighting the State of New Jersey and the Governor, Chris Christie. One of the things you have always maintained is that the Governor is a bully and is corrupt. What were the first signs you saw before making these allegations that have now become public knowledge?
To answer the question I think it is important to provide a chronological and organisational context to my involvement with the New Jersey Medical Board and Chris Christie.
The practice of medicine in the US is regulated by the individual states and not the federal government as is the case with most other western democracies. Each state has its own specific set of regulations and licensing requirements for the physicians and the practice of medicine and each state has its own medical board which in New Jersey is politically appointed and not elected. The fact that the doctors on the New Jersey Medical Board are political appointees of Christie and can be fired at his behest explains the abuse of power that occurred in my case in which the medical board was instructed to suspend my license. The office of the New Jersey Attorney General works and takes its orders from the Christie administration and is allied with the medical board from which there is no division of function or power. This intermingling of judge(Christie), jury(medical board) and prosecutor(attorney general) accounts for the flagrant abuse of power and denial of due process that has occurred both in my case and in the case of many other physicians in New Jersey(reference Dr.Parvez Dara video). It is also what prompted my attorney, Robert Conroy, to file a legal action in June 2012 in Mercer County Superior Court requesting the appointment of a special prosecutor and an ad hoc medical board due to his grave concerns that I would not get justice in New Jersey. Robert Conroy belongs to the New Jersey Republican Party and it is very likely he would have been privy to information about the donations Christie received from the neurosurgeons and hospitals in return for the suspension of my medical license.
From 2004 to 2012 I built a successful minimally invasive spine surgical practice in New Jersey which took business away from a local group of neurosurgeons and hospitals which donated large amounts of money to Christie who ordered the attorney general and the medical board to suspend my license with absurd allegations that I was not credentialed to perform minimally invasive spine surgery. This was despite the fact that the medical board had for almost 10 years known exactly about the procedures I was performing as I had submitted license renewal applications every two years since 2002 and had at one of the centers in which I was credentialed been observed on multiple occasions by a monitor from the medical board. Christie was elected for the first time to the office of governor in 2009 and this is when the process to suspend my license commenced when I was asked to attend a preliminary hearing in February 2010 at which I discussed in detail my education and training in minimally invasive spine surgery. I continued to operate and successfully perform minimally invasive spine surgery and in march 2011 opened my own medicare certified and AAAHC surgical center in Pompton Lakes which required the collaboration of the New Jersey department of health. Unexpectedly in April 2012 I received a letter from the medical board in which indicated they had commenced proceedings to suspend my medical license. On May 9th 2012 an agreement was reached with the medical board in which I consented to limit my practice to interventional pain and it was at exactly this time that I witnessed the first sign of Christie corruption when he had his attorney general, Jeffrey Chiesa, make highly defamatory and prejudicial comments to the New Jersey media with the obvious intention of perverting the course of justice and tainting the public perception of my practice. This highly unethical conduct carried out by Chiesa, a state employee, was at the direction of Christie and was followed a few weeks later when the medical board were ordered to completely suspend my license thus removing my ability to make a living. It was the first time in the history of the medical board that a consent order of which there had been no violation was undone which was the next sign of Christie corruption. A hearing was scheduled before the medical board on June 13th 2012 at which my attorney, Robert Conroy, brought his own transcriptionist as in his own words ‘they have a habit of tampering with the transcripts’and which I remember thinking was very odd as I had never before considered that a state agency would dare to alter legal transcripts but that is exactly what occurred about a year later when I had my hearing in front of administrative law judge, Howard Solomon, and to which I brought my own transcriptionist which demonstrated multiple inconsistencies at critical points in the state’s transcript. This was another sign of Christie corruption and probably the most shocking in that it demonstrated the extent to which his administration would go to cover the truth. I have since sent a letter to President Obama requesting the Federal government investigate the issue of transcript fraud of which the Christie administration is also accused in another case involving an ex New Jersey prosecutor, Bennet Barlyn,
2. In detail, how did Governor Christie bully you?
Ordering the medical board and the office of the attorney general to suspend my medical license and attack my charity, the spine africa project with countless legal subpoenas for no reason other than the fact he was bribed by a small group of neurosurgeons and local hospitals for whom I was business competitor. From the time these proceedings commenced in April 2012 I have remained connected with the New Jersey medico-legal communities and have been able to gather a significant amount of detailed information which has provided the basis for the Jerseygate chart displayed on my website.
3. Successive allegations of corruption have trailed the Bridge scandal, including one from the City of Hoboken. Can you cite specific cases of corruption in your own case?
Dr.Robert Heary was one of the neurosurgical competitors who through his political connections to Christie and business association with a member of the medical board, Steven Lomazow, initiated the actions that led to my license suspension and received a subpoena to attend the hearing before administrative law judge Howard Solomon. Heary ignored this subpoena and Solomon was instructed by the Christie administration to not enforce it and so a key witness in the case with information that would have exposed Christie corruption was allowed to escape public cross examination which would have involved questions from my attorney, Charles Shaw, about his political donations to Christie.
4. Will you be taking any other action to highlight your own case against the Governor at this time or will let the legal process take its course?
The legal appeals process will continue and I will continue to bring attention to the culture of corruption that has defined Christie and his administration.
5. What exactly is the link between the Governor and the Medical Board? Shouldn’t the board be independent?
The governor has the power to appoint and dismiss without cause all members of the medical board which has effectively turned the medical board into another one of his political weapons. This anomaly of constitution is a uniquely New Jersey phenomenon and explains the ease with which Christie ordered the medical board to suspend my medical license. In most western democracies the medical board or council is elected by the physicians and politicians are not given any opportunity to corrupt the system. In New Jersey the unconstitutional organization of the governor’s office and the medical board has consistently denied physicians genuinine due legal process while attempting to give the impression of impartiality with hearings and trials that are prejudged with outcomes based on political expediency and not clinical merit.
6. Have asked for a review of your issue with the Board since the scandal about the bridge was broken?
I have not asked for a review of the board proceedings since the GWB scandal became public knowledge. However there is a hearing on February 14th in Trenton in front of the medical board at which I will submit a written response indicating my complete lack of faith in the fairness of a medical board that takes its orders from a corrupt governor that is under both state and federal investigation. The old adage that the apple does not fall too far from the tree is aptly applied in these circumstances and which at the very least raises some significant questions about the impartiality of the New Jersey Medical Board and whether there should be an investigation into its practices as they relate to Christie. All members of the medical board are renumerated for their time and receive a pension from the state which would very likely be threatened if they challenged Christie just in the same way that he used the federal funds to extort favors from Dawn Zimmer.
7. You have written so much against the Governor. Do you just hate Governor Christie?
I strongly disagree with the corrupt actions he has taken against my medical license, livelihood and everything I have spent my life working towards. He has abused his political position and power to influence the medical board’s decision regarding my medical license committing an injustice against me, my family and patients. I felt it was necessary to bring attention to the profoundly corrupt practices of Christie because of the wrong that had been committed against me but more importantly because of the fact that this man would like to become the 2016 US President which given all of the information now hitting the media airwaves is a chilling thought. I have two children that are US citizens who will grow up in this country and a large part of my motivation for the anti-Christie articles stems from my deep concerns about the kind of world that would be created for my children if Christie were able to occupy the Whitehouse.
8. Were New Jersey electorates uninformed or uneducated to have re-elected Governor Christie in spite of all these signs that he is not as honest as he has portrayed himself to be?
This is an issue that has perplexed me although my proximity to the actions of his corrupt administration placed me in a position closer to the rotten core than most citizens of New Jersey and allowed me to witness his dishonesty at an earlier point. From the time Christie entered politics he has tried to control the media as he understands that most people will believe what they read or hear through the popular New Jersey media outlets which are primarily businesses that make money in the state of New Jersey and have been subjected to his usual intimadatory tactics. The democratic challenger, Barbara Buono, was a very weak candidate and never stood any real chance of winning the 2013 election. What I think is also important is the fact that the voter turnout for the Nov 5th 2013 election was the lowest ever recorded in the state which suggests that there was a significant part of the population that did not want to vote for Christie but did not know anything about the alternative, Barbara Buono. Had Cory Booker ran for the Governor position it is very likely he would have won.
9. Do you think the citizens of New Jersey should recall the Governor. If so, why?
I do think Christie should be impeached as clearly he is not in a position to effectively govern the state. His credibility is in serious question and his administration is under both state and federal investigation which will act as major distractions to the daily running of government. Additionally the people of New Jersey have right to know that their elected officials can be trusted to behave with integrity which if all the allegations against are proved against Christie will confirm otherwise. There are too many unanswered questions about issues that relate to fundamental requirements of honest governance and Christie cannot be trusted any further with the office of the governor.
10. How dangerous is Governor Christie for America as a president?
The position of US President confers immense power that if used improperly and not for the betterment of society can lead to crimes against humanity. History has demonstrated that political dictators, despots and tyrants all began their journeys with the commitment of small acts of injustice that went unchallenged and led invariably to regimes with unbridled power used against the common good. I think that GWB, Hoboken and Bennet Barlyn scandals are clear evidence of the crimes Christie is prepared to commit against his own people which does not bode well for the non US citizens of the world and should he ever occupy the Whitehouse I think it would be a very dangerous thing for the world
11. What has been the financial, professional and emotional cost of the shutdown of your practice?
The financial, professional and emotional costs consequent to the suspension of me medical license have been immense but I have dealt with many serious challenges throughout my life that have equipped me mentally and spiritually to confront the current challenges. I take a philosophical view on all of my life experiences and look for the lessons and opportunities for growth that each presents.
12. Can’t you just go to another state in America; or even Europe, Asia or Africa and forget about the United States? Must you practice in New Jersey?
I could apply to obtain a license in another state although it would be difficult in the current circumstances. One of the reasons that I have fought this case so hard is to expose the real reason the New Jersey Medical Board suspended my license so that with all of my future endeavors the people with which I interact will know the truth. It was important also for my children that I establish a record of my fight to regain my reputation and have the truth told.
13. With your travails not abating, what are your next steps? Have you considered doing more philanthropy. If not, what is stopping you?
I will be devoting the next year to the spine africa project and have plans to establish educational programs in Africa for minimally invasive spine surgery
14. What can give you a sense of justice now?
I feel a sense already in the fact that Christie is under investigation by both his own state and federal authorities which I think will lead to his impeachment and possible prosecution for misuse of hurricane sandy funds. The $25 million given to Christie by the US government will need to be accounted for and I am sure there will be further evidence demonstrating his misappropriation and possible theft of funds.
15. What has been the impact on your philanthropic work in Africa. What do you wish you have achieved that you haven’t?
The negative impact on my ability to continue my philanthropic work in Africa has been huge as I have had to divert my resources and time to fighting expensive legal battles and been unable to focus on developing any of the health programs of the spine africa project. Additionally the internet and media attacks that Christie orchestrated to ruin my reputation has made it harder to raise monies for the charitable work which I had personally funded in the beginning. I would like to have established educational programs in minimally invasive spine surgery and had plans to create a fellowship that would have allowed African and American doctors the opportunity to exchange their knowledge and experience.
16. Can you gain lost ground?
Yes. I think the fact that I fought the case so hard and Christie is now in the spotlight accused of conduct that I have always maintained was the cause of my suspension will allow me to more rapidly rebuild my life than had I not brought attention to the case. I talk on a regular basis with many people from around the world who have known me for years and been following the case and they almost all agree that it was the right to thing to fight to regain my reputation. I feel optimistic about my future and also grateful that I have had the opportunity to experience such a challenge.