The Washington Department of Health has suspended the license of the owner of three Pierce County drug clinics accused of falsifying patient records and ordered that he “never resume the practice of a chemical dependency professional in the state of Washington.”
John Dorman was the key figure in the three-year-long KING 5 Investigators “Sobriety for Sale” series, in which counselors at several south Sound drug and alcohol treatment clinics were accused of soliciting bribes from clients to falsify their records for court-ordered treatment.
In documents filed by the attorney general’s office Friday, Dorman stipulated that he and his employees forged signatures, faked client records, and bilked insurance companies.
Dorman, who owned Doorway to Recovery in Lakewood, Abracadabra in Spanaway, and A Change Counseling Renton, did not respond to a KING 5 email seeking comment.
The KING 5 Investigators reported in May of 2016 on complaints filed with the Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) that alleged Dorman and his counselors downgraded clients' drug and alcohol assessments and falsified their treatment attendance records in documents submitted to the court.
Dorman’s clinics were state certified, and the Pierce County courts relied on his clinical reports to confirm that offenders were receiving the treatment ordered by judges.
Two former counselors, Jaimie Stewart and Robin Sehmel, also told KING 5 about forgeries and misconduct that they witnessed while working for Dorman.
Dorman is the former son-in-law of Clarence Farmer, whose license was previously suspended for similar violations. Farmer’s Tacoma clinic, A Change Counseling, was shut down by state regulators after KING 5’s stories aired.
However, Dorman was able to hang on to his license while the state Department of Health and attorney general’s office investigated.
“When we represent a client, we generally defer to the client on any comment,” said Attorney General spokesperson Brionna Aho, in response to a question about why it took so long to act against Dorman.
The Department of Health has refused to explain its rationale for the handling of the case.
Dorman’s case also exposed serious failures in the state agency that licenses the more than 500 licensed treatment centers in Washington.
Four former inspectors for the Department of Social and Health Services Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR) said administrators repeatedly foiled their investigations into Dorman and other suspicious counselors.
They say DBHR backed off investigations when clinic owners threatened legal action.
DBHR has now been transferred from DSHS to the Washington Department of Health. Department spokesperson Kenny Coleman has declined to make anyone from the new unit at DOH available to answer questions about how the transfer to a new agency has made DBHR more effective.
“It saddens me that it took so long for the Department of Health to follow through with the complaints filed against John Dorman,” said former employee Robin Sehmel.
“John Dorman did more harm to clients than good,” she said.
Follow Chris Ingalls on Twitter @CJIngalls.