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Multicounty grand jurors say Narconon investigation should continue
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Multicounty grand jurors say Narconon investigation should continue

The multicounty panel investigated insurance fraud.

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Read the multicounty grand jury report, including a recommendation to continue investigating allegations of insurance fraud at Narconon Arrowhead.


{span style=”text-decoration: underline;”}Read the lawsuit by the National Association of Forensic Counselors against Narconon and 81 other defendants.

A multicounty grand jury’s final report recommends continued investigation of possible insurance fraud by a drug rehabilitation facility where three patients have died since 2011.

The grand jury heard testimony from multiple witnesses and reviewed numerous exhibits “concerning allegations of insurance fraud at Narconon Arrowhead,” the report states.

The grand jury began meeting 18 months ago in Oklahoma City to hear evidence gathered by more than 100 law enforcement agencies or agency divisions. The grand jury did not issue any indictments of Narconon officials among its 17 indictments.

“There is still work to be done in this investigation,” states the grand jurors’ final report, issued Thursday. “This Grand Jury supports and recommends the continued investigation of these allegations.”

Narconon Arrowhead is located on the shores of Lake Eufaula near Canadian, northeast of McAlester. The facility can house up to 200 patients, known in the program as students.

Narconon Arrowhead is the flagship branch of an international drug-rehabilitation organization rooted in the teachings of Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The program’s unorthodox treatment includes five-hour daily sauna sessions and large doses of niacin — vitamin B3. Additionally, patients go through training based on Hubbard’s teachings.

A multiagency investigation of Narconon Arrowhead began after Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20, died from a drug overdose at the facility in July 2012. Her death followed the deaths of patients Gabriel Graves in 2011 and Hillary Holten in 2012.

Attorney David Riggs, representing Narconon Arrowhead, has said he is aware of the grand jury investigation and that “we provided the information that they wanted.”

Among witnesses called by the grand jury is Eric Tenorio, a supervisor at Narconon Arrowhead and other locations for 12 years. Tenorio said the centers operate as a recruiting tool for the Church of Scientology. He said he eventually left his job and began filing complaints about Narconon, including that employees falsely claimed to be certified drug counselors.

Narconon Arrowhead is currently facing at least 11 lawsuits in Oklahoma courts, including a federal suit by a national association that certifies drug addiction counselors. The National Association of Forensic Counselors sued Narconon Arrowhead, the Church of Scientology and 80 related defendants in Oklahoma’s Eastern U.S. District Court in Muskogee.

In addition to the federal suit, 10 lawsuits have been filed in Pittsburg County District Court alleging wrongful deaths of Narconon patients, negligence, fraud and other claims against the drug rehabilitation facility.

Riggs said previously the facility operated for 20 years in Oklahoma “without any incidents at all” before the three deaths. He said Narconon cannot publicly respond to allegations in the lawsuits due to patient confidentiality laws.

The facility has a pending application for certification as a substance abuse halfway house, defined by state law as one that provides “low intensity substance abuse treatment in a supportive living environment to facilitate the individual’s reintegration into the community.”

The Oklahoma Insurance Department confirmed to the World that officials there had received subpoenas to testify before the grand jury about Narconon. The Insurance Department said it could not discuss details of active investigations.

Following a raid on its Georgia office last year, Narconon agreed to surrender its license there to avoid criminal prosecution. State investigators uncovered nearly $3 million in alleged insurance fraud by Narconon of Georgia, according to news reports.

Ziva Branstetter 918-581-8306

ziva.branstetter@tulsaworld.com

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