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Johns Hopkins Agrees To Settlement Over Doctor’s Secret Recording Of Patients

By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE — Johns Hopkins Hospital has agreed to pay $190 million in a proposed settlement over claims that gynecologist Dr. Nikita A. Levy surreptitiously recorded patients over the course of several years, the lead attorney in the class-action lawsuit announced.

The settlement may be the largest of its kind. A class-action suit involving a Delaware pediatrician convicted of recording assaults on hundreds of children led to a $120 million settlement in 2012. That same year, a Connecticut hospital settled for about $50 million with 150 victims of an endocrinologist who used a medical study as a pretense to take obscene photographs of children.

“When learning of Dr. Levy’s behavior, our clients were extremely distraught. They felt a great breach of faith and trust. They felt betrayed. Now, with this proposed settlement, we can begin the process of healing our community,” said Jonathan Schochor, the chairman of the plaintiffs’ committee, and Howard Janet, another attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement.

Levy, a doctor in the Johns Hopkins Community Medicine system since 1988, took his life in February 2013 amid an investigation that revealed he was using tiny cameras — concealed in pens and key fobs — to record patients.

Hopkins officials had been alerted by a female colleague who noticed a pen camera around Levy’s neck, and police found more than 1,200 video clips and images after searching 10 hard drives at Levy’s Towson-area home, authorities have said.

In court papers, plaintiffs also contended that Levy “engaged in doctor-patient boundary violations during the course of his patients’ treatment,” including “an excessive number of unnecessary pelvic exams and engaging in inappropriate physical contact.” Some said Levy practiced without medical professionals on hand as observers, a routine hospital practice for the safety of patients and doctors.

Hopkins said it had identified more than 12,500 potential victims.

Photo via WikiCommons

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Md. Man Appeared To Plot To Kill Del. Judge, Authorities Say

By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE — The founder of an embattled Maryland-based insurance company appears to have been plotting to kill a Delaware judge overseeing the liquidation of his business, recording himself on a trip to scout out his targets and acquiring a cache of weapons, federal authorities allege in court filings.

Jeffrey B. Cohen, 39, of Reisterstown, Md., was arrested last month after he was indicted on charges that he schemed to make it appear that his company, Indemnity Insurance Corp., which insured bars and nightclubs, had millions of dollars in cash it did not possess.

But court documents unsealed in U.S. District Court this week reveal more startling allegations. In a search of Cohen’s home and vehicle, agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said they found a “target list” of officials in Delaware and Maryland, driving directions to the home of the judge overseeing Indemnity’s liquidation, several firearms including a “surgeon precision” assault rifle, and an order form for incendiary ammunition — bullets that explode.

Cohen has not been charged in connection with the latest allegations, according to a search of court records.

Federal agents conducted the search of his $1 million home in connection with the insurance case, in which he has been charged with making false statements to an insurance regulator. They cited their findings in requesting a warrant to search Cohen’s phone records, which a magistrate judge granted.

A digital recorder also was found, which Cohen allegedly used to record himself during what agents believe was a “recon” mission to the Delaware homes of Judge J. Travis Laster, a vice chancellor who also has been sued by Cohen, and a person identified in the court documents only as an elected official.

“Society needs to look at the fact that killing isn’t wrong in certain circumstances, and killing culls the weak,” Cohen allegedly said in the recording. “Killing culls the wrong so that society can have a better chance of survival without certain obstacles.”

An attorney most recently listed for Cohen in the insurance case said he no longer represents him.

Relatives of Cohen’s and former co-workers also did not return phone calls. Cohen is being held in federal detention.

Cohen, who worked at a nightclub before starting Indemnity, told authorities that some of the writings they found were part of a book of fiction he was writing, according to the court documents. One of the pages of a notebook recovered by federal agents was titled “Scenes.”

Notations in the spiral notebook contained “very concerning notes that may indicate Cohen planned to harm other individuals and then take his own life or flee to a foreign country,” a federal agent wrote in the documents. One of Cohen’s notations read: “Use homeless to carry backpack into targets — remote control apparatus.”

On the audio recordings, Cohen said that he doesn’t think anyone will ever understand how “someone can do something that others think is just so horrific but it seems completely normal to the person committing the attack.”

Officials said at least seven assault weapons and handguns were found in Cohen’s home, including a Taurus .45-caliber handgun with a laser sight, and a precision-guided assault rifle with an attached tracking scope. Inside his Lexus SUV, agents reportedly found a rifle stand and optical scope.

Cohen was indicted by a federal grand jury last month on charges related to his claim to Delaware regulators that his company had $5.1 million in unencumbered cash at Susquehanna Bank, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Cohen’s company, Indemnity, is headquartered in Sparks, Md., but domiciled for regulatory purposes in Delaware.

Indemnity is a significant player in the insurance niche for bars, taverns, and nightclubs, and the company’s ongoing troubles have left some local businesses in limbo.

Delaware’s insurance department accused Cohen of “multiple acts of fraud,” according to court documents, including forging an endorsement from a reinsurance firm and interfering with the company’s computer system after he was forced out.

Laster’s office referred questions about the alleged threats to the court administrator, who did not return phone calls.

Photo: Rob Bixby via Flickr

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