According to court documents, Erv Brinker, the former CEO for Summit Pointe and now convicted felon, paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a psychic who was involved in a multi-million dollar fraud scheme. He paid her this money out of his own money as well as from Medicaid funds.
Brinker was sentenced to prison in early January of 2016 for committing Medicaid fraud and embezzlement. The sentencing memorandum states that he told his counselor that he was suffering from “extreme stress related to his marriage and work” at the time that he befriended a psychic from Key West, Florida.
A disclosed excerpt of the sealed report by his psychologist, Ronald Vanderbeck, states that Brinker, “on a professional trip to Florida stopped to see a psychic more out of curiosity. The psychic was a woman. She turned out to be a good listener, had a pleasant disposition, and he enjoyed talking with her.”
The former CEO pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud and embezzlement and was sentenced to a minimum of 32 months in prison.
According to Calhoun County Circuit Court documents, Brinker and his wife at the time, a woman named Jamie Gibson, got a divorce in September of 2011.
Brinker’s attorneys state that he didn’t know about how his chosen psychic was involved in a multi-million dollar scheme that the FBI uncovered. The psychic in question, a woman named Julie Davis, also goes by the name of Flora Eli and belongs to a family of fortune-tellers who have been charged with conspiracy, money laundering, as well as mail and wire fraud.
69-year-old Brinker admitted in November to giving the psychic about $510,000 out of public funds for fraudulent consulting contracts. The invoices for these payments show three separate 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 by the name of Tommy Eli, who has been identified as Davis’ husband by the Michigan Attorney General’s office last year.
The memo says that Brinker told his psychologist, with whom he had been consulting every week since May of 2015, that he and Davis spoke on a daily basis. “There was no other type of interaction other than talking to her and receiving her support”.
Davis has a sister named Rose Marks who is currently serving a 10-year sentence for scamming over $17.8 million dollars from clients in Fort Lauderdale Florida. You can read about her and the rest of the Marks family here and here.
Summit Pointe contractor and Battle Creek consultant Bill Schroer states in a letter of support; “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.”
According to prosecutors, the scheming psychic family set up storefront shops in New York City and Broward County, Florida in ritzy neighborhoods and from these shops they would catch and swindle customers. The authorities nicknamed the investigation “Operation Crystal Ball” and there were about eight other family members involved and sentenced in this.
The family members are of Roma/Gypsy background and their lawyers argued in their defense that the act of fortune telling was protected under the constitution because of how it was part of their religious belief system.
The victims of Marks’ testified in court that she “convinced them she had special powers that including swapping people’s souls between bodies, preventing a woman from conceiving a child, and even stopping the Internal Revenue Service from going after clients for taxes,” reported the Sun-Sentinel in Florida.
At first Brinker paid Davis $9,000 of his own money at the beginning of 2011 but that number rose to $658,000 through early 2014. Brinker was paid about $350,000 a year for being Summit Pointe CEO and was also eligible for a bonus of $233,000 in his last contract.
All in all, including his own money and Medicaid funds, Brinker ended up paying the psychic about $1,168,000. This number is higher than the amount he had to pay in restitution and civil fines he had to pay the state of Michigan and his former employer, which was $1,020,000.
The judge heard from Brinker’s attorney about how even though Brinker used Medicaid funds improperly, he “lives in a modest home and drives older cars.”
“As I hear his possible sentence, it is very hard to me to believe society would be one bit better, nor that he would be chastened one bit more by his incarceration,” read the letter of support from Criterion Health managing principal, Bob Dyer.
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 and they all asked Ingham County Circuit Court Judge William Collette to not give Brinker a prison sentence.
A longtime Summit Pointe contractor and consultant in Battle Creek, Bill Schroer, wrote in his letter that Brinker “has agonized over what happened.”
“He feels very badly about his decisions relating to this issue (even though I do not personally know exactly what he did wrong). I see it as a tragedy Erv’s many years of good service, leadership and progressive achievements should be nullified and his reputation destroyed by what has happened.”
“The long history of good he has done in and for this community should not be overshadowed by this one act- for which I believe he is truly sorry,” read the letter of support from Anthony DeRose, a former counselor and educator. “I trust you will recognize all the positive qualities of this man and make your sentencing decision with this in mind.”
Most of the letters did not ever mention the fact that Brinker was paying a psychic out of Medicaid funds; instead they were focusing on everything he had achieved as the CEO for Summit Pointe.
A.J Jones is the CEO for Grace Health and in his letter he wrote, “He was even recognized as Scene Magazine’s 2007 Man of the Year for all he has done for our community. I have personally seen and know that he has a heart for people.”
Several others told Judge Collette that Brinker has taken full responsibility for his actions and felt that this should go into account.
“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,” read the letter from Bob Dyer, the managing principal for Criterion Health.
John Bromley, former Summit Pointe board Chairman, stated in his letter that the whole case was a real shock but that he truly 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 from those that knew Brinker, Judge Collette still sentenced him to 32 to 120 months in prison. This sentence is almost twice the amount of prison time that the criminal sentencing guidelines state, which is 17 months. Brinker is currently serving time at the Michigan Department of Corrections’ Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson County.
Before he was fired last year, Brinker had been the Summit Pointe CEO for almost 25 years.