By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Two county health administrators, not speaking for attribution, have said that the Alameda County matter influenced the decision to pursue access to Creary‘s local records. Creary associate Juarez, in an earlier interview with the Weekly, blamed Creary’s problems in Northern California on a former business associate and reiterated that the legal stipulation contained no finding of wrongdoing. For this story, neither Creary nor Juarez was available for comment. They could not be reached through their former county-affiliated offices, which provided no forwarding information. And a call to Creary‘s private office number was picked up by the answering machine of an attorney.
According to the 1995 Oakland court-settlement papers, the $535,000 that Creary and Matthews-Juarez agreed to pay in penalties included a $300,000 fine, plus additional levies for public and patient restitution and plaintiff legal costs totaling $235,000; the judgment included a process whereby Creary could put up his house on Jupiter Drive in the Mount Olympus section of Los Angeles as security toward payment of the penalties. The defendants were given more than a year to complete payment, said prosecutor Ochoa last week, but the penalty was paid in full within six months of the 1995 agreement.
Despite that setback, Creary retained strong earning power. According to 1997 county records, Creary earned a combined salary of more than $201,000 per year for his work at King Hospital and his position at Drew University. At Drew, Creary held the essential position of chair of family medicine for nearly 25 years.
In addition, the doctor, who drove a Rolls-Royce at the time of the consent decree, had enough other going business ventures to make you wonder how he found time to practice medicine on behalf of L.A. County.
According to recent state corporate records, Creary recently presided over four for-profit California corporations (not including California Family Care) of unspecified size, plus one nonprofit entity. The same records show that a dozen Creary-founded corporate entities have been suspended over the past eight years -- mostly because of failures to keep up payments on state franchise taxes. At least one of these companies did business with the county health department.
Creary also maintained -- and apparently still maintains -- an active private medical practice. (So do many other doctors at King-Drew and in other county hospitals.) But he no longer holds his chairmanship at the King-Drew hospital.
Officials are reluctant to discuss the details of and reasons for Creary’s departure. According to Thomas, Creary has left the university voluntarily, but is still practicing medicine at the nearby King Medical Center. This week, however, hospital personnel could not confirm for the Weekly that Creary still worked there. Family-medicine staffers contacted by phone said that his former chair is now held by a temporary appointee, pending a search for a permanent replacement.
Last fall, the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD), the newly recognized bargaining unit for Los Angeles County health-service doctors, filed an unfair-labor-practice charge against Creary, alleging that the chairman had compelled eight King-Drew teaching doctors to work in an Inglewood clinic he operated, without remuneration. They claimed they‘d been threatened with firing if they did not comply with the demand. The doctors, sometimes referred to as “The Imperial Heights Eight,” because their official work site was in Imperial Heights, were ultimately released from duty at the Inglewood facility, which began as a Drew University--affiliated clinic. For his part, Creary has insisted in legal filings that the Inglewood clinic was professionally and ethically managed.
The final resolution of the doctors’ grievance remains pending, according to UAPD union official Joe Bader. A Civil Service Commission hearing is also pending.
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