Doctor fired by jail over record

Accused of double dipping by state, psychiatrist loses Harford job over '87 fraud

October 21, 2004|By Fred Schulte | Fred Schulte,SUN STAFF

A psychiatrist fired from the Spring Grove Hospital Center this year for working two state jobs at the same time has been dismissed from a third job caring for Harford County jail inmates.

The Harford County Detention Center in Bel Air barred Dr. Kripa Kashyap from treating prisoners this week after The Sun reported the doctor's double dipping and his conviction in 1987 for bilking Medicaid, the state health care plan for the poor.

"That violates our rules and regulations," Harford County Sheriff's Office spokesman Edward Hopkins said yesterday. "We prohibit employment of people with criminal convictions."

Hopkins said Kashyap, 62, worked part time at the jail for about seven years, counseling inmates and prescribing medications. His contract called for six hours per week, which he "usually" worked on Sundays, Hopkins said, but the doctor was free to come other days and sometimes did.

The Harford jail provides medical care through a contract with ConMed Inc., a La Plata company that specializes in services to county detention centers, and which in turn retained Kashyap. The doctor also worked for the prison-care company that held the Harford jail contract before ConMed took over.

Hopkins said nobody at the jail knew about the doctor's past because the agency depends on ConMed to screen doctors before signing them up. "We require contractors to do background checks. If he slipped through, I don't know," Hopkins said.

ConMed President Ron Grubman could not be reached despite two phone messages left at his office yesterday.

Hopkins said he did not know how much Kashyap earned for his services at the jail, which houses inmates arrested in the county and those sentenced to 18 months' confinement or less.

Kashyap earned $120,492 a year as associate clinical director at Spring Grove, a state-run institution for the mentally ill in Catonsville. He was forced out of the top-level job in June after state auditors accused him of falsifying time sheets to get paid for working two state jobs at once.

For example, the Office of Legislative Audits found that Kashyap collected his regular salary while drawing pay as a private consultant to the Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents in Baltimore. Both the hospital and the institute are run by the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The state paid Kashyap for at least 160 "overlapping hours" between July 2003 and February this year, for which he improperly received about $8,800, auditors said.

Kashyap did not return a phone message left at his Towson home yesterday. In an earlier interview, he said he "should have been more careful" in reporting hours he spent working as a consultant.

State officials would not say whether they knew about Kashyap's Medicaid fraud conviction when they hired him in June 1987 as a staff psychiatrist at Spring Grove.

The case stemmed from an attorney general's office investigation into Kashyap's private practice in Baltimore in the early 1980s. In January 1987, he pleaded guilty in Baltimore Circuit Court to a single count of billing Medicaid for services he didn't perform.

He was sentenced to a year in jail, which was suspended, and placed on five years' probation, according to state medical board records. The court also fined him $10,000 and ordered him to repay $146,391 to Medicaid.

Officials also would not say whether they knew about Kashyap's other jobs. Yet the case has led them to review moonlighting practices by psychiatrists and other mental health workers and to keep closer tabs on their hours.

A June 28 e-mail sent to superintendents of the state's 11 mental institutions states that all employees are "expected to be on site and available" during the working day.

"Please remind employees that they are not permitted to routinely use state time or resources to perform secondary job functions," the e-mail said.

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