Erv Brinker is the former CEO for Summit Pointe and a now-convicted felon. According to court documents, he paid hundreds of thousands to a psychic involved in a multi-million dollar fraud scheme. He paid her this money out of his own and from Medicaid funds.
Brinker was sentenced to prison in early January of 2016 for committing Medicaid fraud and embezzlement. The sentencing memorandum states he told his counselor he was suffering from “extreme stress related to his marriage and work” when he befriended a psychic from Key West, Florida.
Ronald Vanderbeck is Brinker’s psychologist. Prosecutors subpoenaed and unsealed his evaluations. In one section, he wrote, “Brinker stopped to see a psychic out of curiosity on a professional trip to Florida.
The psychic was a woman. She turned out to be a good listener, had a pleasant disposition, and he enjoyed talking with her.” According to Calhoun County Circuit Court documents, Brinker and his then-wife, Jamie Gibson, divorced in September of 2011.
The memo says Brinker told his psychologist, with whom he had been consulting every week since May of 2015, that he and Davis spoke daily. “There was no other type of interaction other than talking to her and receiving her support.”
The former CEO pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud and embezzlement. The judge sentenced him to a minimum of 32 months in prison. Brinker’s attorneys state that he didn’t know his chosen psychic was involved in a multi-million-dollar scheme uncovered by the FBI.
So, Who Is This Scamming Psychic?
The psychic in question is a woman named Julie Davis who also goes by the name Flora Eli. She belongs to a family of fortune-tellers charged with conspiracy, money laundering, and mail and wire fraud.
69-year-old Brinker admitted to giving the psychic about $510,000 out of public funds for fraudulent consulting contracts. The invoices show three payments sent to 606 Duval St. in Key West, Florida, between May 2011 and November 2012.
The records for local business licenses from 2015 show that this address belongs to a psychic shop run by Davis. The payments were all sent to a man named Tommy Eli. Last year, the Michigan Attorney General’s office identified Eli as Davis’s husband.
Davis has a sister named Rose Marks, who’s currently serving a 10-year sentence for scamming over $17.8 million from clients in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. You can read about her and the rest of the Marks family here and here.
According to prosecutors, the scheming psychic family set up storefront shops in luxurious neighborhoods in New York and Florida. From these shops, they would catch and defraud customers.
The authorities nicknamed the investigation “Operation Crystal Ball,” and about eight other family members were involved and sentenced in this. The family members are of Roma/Gypsy background, and their lawyers argued in their defense that the constitution protected the act of fortune-telling because it was part of their religious belief system.
Marks’ victims testified in court that she “convinced them she had special powers. These included swapping people’s souls between bodies, preventing women from conceiving a child, and even stopping the Internal Revenue Service from going after clients for taxes,” reported the Sun-Sentinel in Florida.
How Much Did Brinker Give The Psychic?
At first, Brinker paid Davis $9,000 of his own money at the beginning of 2011. That number then rose to $658,000 through early 2014. Brinker was paid about $350,000 a year for being Summit Pointe CEO and was eligible for a bonus of $233,000 in his last contract.
All in all, including his money and Medicaid funds, Brinker ended up paying the psychic about $1,168,000. This is more than what he had to pay in restitution and civil fines to the state of Michigan and his former employer, which was $1,020,000.
Brinker’s attorney told the judge that despite misusing Medicaid funds, Brinker “lives in a modest home and drives older cars.” There were eight letters of support included in the sentencing memo. Some of these were from Summit Pointe contractors, and one was from a former board member.
They were all written after Brinker pleaded guilty to the charges. All the letters asked Ingham County Circuit Court Judge William Collette not to give Brinker a prison sentence.
Bill Schroer is a Summit Pointe contractor and Battle Creek consultant. His letter said, “Brinker is a good friend and a strong community leader. He may have made a mistake… I can’t comment on that. But I absolutely believe it would serve no purpose for Erv to be incarcerated.
There is much he could do to continue to help people in need with his leadership and intelligence. He’s agonized over what happened. He feels bad about his decisions relating to this issue, although I don’t personally know exactly what he did wrong.
I see it as a tragedy that Erv’s many years of good service, leadership, and progressive achievements should be nullified and his reputation destroyed by what has happened.”
No Shortage Of Support Letters For Brinker
Bob Dyer is the managing principal for Criterion Health. His letter of support read, “As I hear his possible sentence, it’s very hard to me to believe society would be one bit better, nor that he would be chastened one bit more by his incarceration.
The very fact that I am writing this letter seems beyond belief to me knowing Mr. Brinker as I do. While I do not know the details of the events that cause this legal issue, I certainly know how grave it is for Mr. Brinker and that it is a source of severe remorse for him that this should tarnish a life otherwise sparkling with service to others.”
“The long history of good he’s done in and for this community should not be overshadowed by this one act. An act for which I believe he is truly sorry for,” read the letter from Anthony DeRose. DeRose is a former counselor and educator. “I trust you’ll recognize all the positive qualities of this man and make your sentencing decision with this in mind.”
A.J Jones is the CEO of Grace Health and also wrote a support letter. His letter said, “He was even recognized as Scene Magazine’s 2007 Man of the Year for all he’s done for our community. I have personally seen and know that he has a heart for people.”
The Letters Of Support Didn’t Seem To Sway The Judge
Several others told Judge Collette that Brinker had taken full responsibility for his actions. They felt that this should go into account. Most of the letters didn’t mention that Brinker was paying a psychic out of Medicaid funds. Instead, they focused on everything he had achieved as the CEO of Summit Pointe.
John Bromley is the former Summit Pointe Board Chairman. He stated that the whole case was a real shock but that he genuinely believes that Brinker is remorseful and deeply regrets his poor decisions.
“I am very sorry to read of this news and I know that up to this point, Erv has led a very meaningful and productive life,” reads the letter. “Erv has accepted responsibility for his actions and I respectfully request the Court consider Erv’s significant contribution to the community and not incarcerate him as part of his sentence.”
Despite all the letters of support, Judge Collette still sentenced him from 32 to 120 months in prison. This sentence is almost twice the amount of prison time that the criminal sentencing guidelines state, 17 months.
Brinker currently serves time at the Michigan Department of Corrections’ Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson County. Before being fired last year, Brinker had been the Summit Pointe CEO for almost 25 years.