Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for September, 2011

State worker sexually abused vulnerable patient at Shoreline facility

by Matt Rosenberg September 16th, 2011

With his signature on a state health department disciplinary document, a former nursing assistant at a group home operated in Shoreline by the Washington Department of Social and Health Services admitted he sexually abused a developmentally-delayed 57-year-old female patient in his care, and agreed to surrender his license for 10 years for unprofessional conduct.

According to the “Stipulated Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Agreed Order” that he recently signed, Bart Finkbiner, of Shoreline, from about November 2009 until late January 2010 “sexually abused Patient A on multiple occasions” without consent, including vaginal and anal intercourse, and forcing her to perform oral sex on him. The order states that a strong administrative penalty is justified because of the vulnerability of the victim and because the sexual contact was non-consensual.

According to the King County Prosecutor’s Office, Finkbiner worked at Densmore House in Shoreline. The address was 18814 Densmore Ave. N., according to a police report. The site was operated by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, which also employed Finkbiner. The Agreed Order describes it as “a semi-private, residential living environment for developmentally-delayed and/or mentally ill individuals.” DSHS records appear to indicate it is no longer in operation.

DSHS in December 2010 issued a finding against Finkbiner of abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult, and an agency spokesperson said he resigned effective June 25, 2011. In a related but separate proceeding, the Washington State Department of Health – which oversees health care workers – filed administrative charges of unprofessional conduct against Finkbiner in early August of 2011, leading to the Agreed Order signed by Finkbiner and dated August 30, in which he surrendered his nursing assistant license for 10 years. The health department posted the document online and announced the action against Finkbiner on Sept. 13.

According to Deputy Chief of Staff Ian Goodhew, the King County Prosecutor’s Office is still reviewing the case but it may be difficult to charge and try Finkbiner for rape because his signed agreed order with the health department, technically termed “an adopted admission,” is by itself not enough to support a legal claim of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and in addition the developmentally-delayed victim, who reported the case to the department, gave inconsistent statements in later interviews about which days sexual contact occurred, and which acts on which days. No other witnesses were located, Goodhew added.

In response to a reporter’s message left at his Shoreline residence, Finkbiner left a message that he was “very depressed” about the case, that he “didn’t want this to be drawn out” and that he does “not want to work with this population” any more – a reference to developmentally challenged and/or mentally ill individuals.

Finkbiner’s year of birth is listed as 1955 in state records online.

UPDATE, 10:36 a.m.: In a phone interview this morning, Finkbiner denied committing the acts described in the health department Agreed Order he signed. He added that he signed the document because he could not afford an attorney and did not want co-workers to have to be involved in an attempt by him to contest the charges at the health department level. Finkbiner declined to answer further questions.

OTHER RECENT CASES WE’VE REPORTED:

Everett-based counselor loses license for sex with patient

Foreign lottery fixation leads to license revocation for Yakima optometrist

State: nurse at Auburn facility took patients’ opiates, worked under influence

State: patient abandoned by home nursing aide, found on floor

Federal Way hospital nurse charged with rape of patient

Matt Rosenberg is founder and editor of Public Data Ferret, a project of the non-profit Public Eye Northwest.


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CDC report: U.S. adult smoking isn’t fading away

by Matt Rosenberg September 13th, 2011

SUMMARY: U.S. adults made only slight progress quitting smoking between 2005 and 2010, and are not on track to meet the nation’s formal 2020 goal of only 12 percent of adults smoking, according to a new report released by the U.S. Centers For Disease Control. Almost one in five still meet the definition of “current smoker,” down only 1.6 percent over the last five full calendar years. U.S. adult smoking prevalence rates varied by age, income, race and geography, with California and Utah showing the lowest percentages. Washington state was in the second lowest cohort. Because smoking poses annual medical and productivity costs of nearly $200 billion in the U.S., and because quitting has slowed, the CDC report urges consideration of stronger deterrents including higher tobacco taxes, wider smoke-free policies for public places and workplaces, broader restrictions on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, expanded media campaigns, and better access to affordable and effective smoking cessation programs.

Inspector General: national parks climate initiative weak, ineffective

by Matt Rosenberg September 12th, 2011

SUMMARY: According to a report by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Inspector General, a voluntary climate change initiative of the U.S. National Park Service called Climate Friendly Parks is mainly window dressing because it has no consistent accountability and performance measures, and suffers from poor data inputs at the front end. With tough new greenhouse gas reduction goals coming for the U.S. government under an executive order, the initiative might be best consolidated with a broader, and mandatory type of environmental protection program that the parks service and each other federal agency will have to develop and implement, in their own way, to meet those goals.

Bellevue man, Kirkland firm charged with securities fraud

by Matt Rosenberg September 8th, 2011

SUMMARY: Attorneys for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a legal complaint today in U.S. District Court in Seattle against Richard A. Finger, 32, of Bellevue, Wash. for defrauding investors in the Kirkland, Wash. securities trading firm he ran of about $4 million over a seven-month period in 2011, through a high-volume, high-risk trading scheme. SEC attorneys allege in the complaint that Finger’s investors, mainly family and friends, lost $1.9 million due to his “improper trading” and that he took another $2.1 million in commissions to help fund a lavish lifestyle – while falsifying account balances, underreporting commissions, and forging documentation to a suspicious trading partner. Federal criminal charges of wire fraud were also filed against Finger today, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Finger’s attorneys say in a statement issued today to Public Data Ferret that he’s admitted deceiving customers, apologized to them and will reimburse them as best he can.

Seattle Police memo: body cameras easier said than done, now

by Matt Rosenberg September 7th, 2011

SUMMARY: In a report to be presented Sept. 8 to a Seattle City Council committee, Seattle Police say they haven’t begun to test four body-mounted cameras on police officers as directed but that the SPD training unit has done preliminary testing of one camera. Police verified that today. The cameras would record images and sound of police interactions with the public. Police say that in the one-camera test to date, serious problems are evident with the usefulness of the video footage if officers are moving. Police also stress in their report advice from city lawyers on the need to change state law to allow audio recording of citizens without their express consent. That’s not allowed currently. Police note community concerns are another issue, reporting that various stakeholders say citizens should be asked for their consent to recordings regardless of what state law says. Field testing is planned for body cameras on motorcycle traffic officers, with prior consent of citizens required before recording. Funding of a wide-scale Seattle Police body camera pilot program also poses major challenges, police say. A sought-after federal grant has failed to materialize due to U.S. budget constraints. Additionally, the police officers labor union would have to approve widespread use of body cameras, in a new contract now being negotiated.

Seattle-based EarthCorps teaches stewardship to the world

by Administrator September 1st, 2011

Editor’s note: Public Data Ferret’s “mother blog” site Social Capital Review periodically profiles noteworthy nonprofits or community initiatives with ties to our base coverage area of Western Washington.

By Scott Patton

You already know that Washington’s extensive trail network serves tens of thousands of annual users. But you may not know that it’s also a training ground for 15,000 volunteers a year from all over the globe, who learn outdoor stewardship from the local non-profit EarthCorps, headquartered off Sand Point Way in Northeast Seattle next to Magnuson Park.

On a recent summer weekend, EarthCorps member and crew leader A.J. Velon was helping move rocks that weigh hundreds of pounds to build a turnpike on the Snoqualmie Lake Trail. The Snoqualmie Lake camp used by the crew is an eight mile hike from a fairly remote trail head. The crew of six included participants from Kazakhstan, Peru, and Fiji. The work starts everyday at 7:30 am and goes until 5:00 pm and consists of tasks ranging from repairing campsites, to repairing trails and building drainage structures. This goes on for 11 days.