Press Release: DOCTOR WRONGFULLY ACCUSED HOUSTON, TX. April 30, 2012 –
Dr. Tony Ha, a Bellaire chiropractor, has now experienced every medical or legal professional’s worst nightmare – a visit from Harris County Assistant District Attorney Wendy Baker and her Barratry Task Force. To make matters worse, Baker and her task force seized confidential patient records. Add to the ordeal that Dr. Ha voluntarily surrendered himself to Lonnie Blevins, Baker’s investigator on the task force, so that he could be processed in a prompt and professional manner.
He appeared at 8:30 with an understanding that by voluntarily presenting himself, he would be processed in short order. Instead, he was designated by Blevins to be released with the last group of detainee’s being released for the day, at 4 a.m. the following morning.
His initial court appearance was a mere 5 hours later, at 9:00 a.m. Ha hired Houston attorney Bob Bennett to protect his liberty, practice and license.
Bennett spoke to Blevins the previous week, and questioned why Ha was even involved in this barratry investigation.
Blevins responded that he wasn’t sure how or if Dr. Ha was involved in barratry, but despite being unsure of Ha’s role, the District Attorney’s Office proceeded to not only charge him with a crime, but with a crime that he was never alleged to have committed. Says Bennett: “It is very disconcerting to defend a doctor in a matter, being prepared to defend against probable cause, and then the charge is read and your client has been charged with ‘Falsely Holding Oneself out as a Lawyer’ when you believe your client is there to face another charge”.
Bennett continues that the District Attorney’s Office was so confused and disorganized, that upon trying to prove that probable cause exited, The prosecutor Wendy Baker cited a string of facts completely unrelated to the charges presented, and at one point the Judge had to refocus Ms. Baker’s attention back to the name of the Defendant.
Baker then admitted that a mistake had been made, and those charges were ultimately dismissed.
Not to be deterred, Baker refiled barratry charges against Ha a few days later.
The initial appearance in that case was scheduled earlier this morning Ha maintains that he has done nothing wrong, and as Bennett notes, the underlying complainant in this case is a lawyer named Marcela Halmagean who “went undercover” to try to catch a lawyer or a doctor doing something unethical or illegal.
Halmagean presented at the doctor’s office in need of medical care, or so Dr. Ha thought.
Instead, the attorney, along with Blevins, surreptitiously recorded their visit, using both video and audio means.
The main complaint seems to be that while filling out intake paperwork, Halmagean was presented with an intake form from a lawyer, namely State Representative Ronald Reynolds.
After seeing the doctor, Halmagean determined that a copy of her paperwork was at Ron Reynolds’ office the following day, and she turned over all the information to Wendy Baker.
Based on the information Halmagean provided, an affidavit was prepared in support of a search warrant, and a search warrant was issued and served on Dr. Ha’s office, resulting in the seizure of confidential patient files, computers and assorted other property from the office.
The extent and detail of items seized is not known at this time because despite repeated requests for copies of documents that prosecutors are by law required to provide, Baker continues to even acknowledge the requests or follow the mandated procedures.
When a warrant is obtained, the affidavit in support of the warrant is required to be maintained in the magistrate’s file, and the officer’s executing the warrant are obligated under the law to provide a detailed list of items seized during the execution of the warrant.
On April 25, 2012, the affidavit supporting the search warrant and the inventory of the items seized during the search were not in the magistrate’s file as required by law.
Wendy Baker’s dreams must have come true the minute she thought she snared a sitting State Representative in her little sting. Reynolds maintains that he is innocent of these charges, and will vigorously defend his honor and reputation.
Another party charged is Adriene Anderson, a local woman who has been an investigator for nearly 20 years, and has had a business supporting legal and medical professionals in their marketing during that time.
Anderson contends that there is nothing improper about the way her marketing firm operates, adding that her company structure, marketing methods and telephone scripts have been either drafted or reviewed by a prominent law firm, and that all particulars of her marketing programs are within the bounds of the law.
All parties are charged with Barratry, a third degree felony under the Texas Penal Code.
In essence, barratry is engaging in unlawful solicitation of potential clients, with the intent to obtain an economic benefit, when the potential client has not first contacted the professional, or has not requested contract by the professional.
The barratry statutes
have been heatedly debated over the years, and parts of the current barratry law are still considered unconstitutional.
Bennett says that he is confident that when all the facts are known, Ha and the other Defendant’s will be found not to be in violation of any laws, and they will be vindicated