One Year Later: DWI Case Still Going On for OIG’s Deputy Inspector General for Enforcement

There is very little commentary on the TDMR website in relation to the DWI arrest last September of Jack Stick, former State Rep and Bee Cave judge who is the Deputy Inspector General for Enforcement for HHSC-OIG.

As his case is still outstanding a year later in the Travis Country Criminal Courts, it is time to ask some serious questions on why he is getting such a free ride both by his agency, the Texas legislature and the media.

It is not like Stick wasn’t an already controversial figure. In Bee Cave, as a judge, he started a weird practice of dismissing traffic violations if the offender made a donation to the City of Bee Cave.

He even became the subject of a whistleblower suit himself filed by a judicial clerk he sacked. The whistleblower, Jennifer Curry, believed she was fired by Stick for filing a complaint against him with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. The whistleblower suit alleged “improper and incompetent job performance” that included “dismissing cases without a proper motion from the prosecutor, failing to follow state statutes with regard to offenses involving minors and alcohol, engaging in improper ex parte communications with defendants whose cases were pending before the Bee Cave Municipal Court and filing criminal contempt charges against her in the [Bee Cave court] in retaliation” for a complaint of misconduct that she filed against him. The contempt charges Stick leveled against her were dismissed by Senior Judge Paul Davis.

Stick was also named in the Tom Delay money laundering case.

In regards to Stick’s DWI handling, the comparison is with that of Rosemary Lehmberg, the Austin District Attorney. While Stick’s arrest was successfully kept quiet for a month, Lehmberg had the circumstance of someone recognizing her with the media notified almost immediately. The embarrassing dash cam and jail house videos soon hit the evening news with calls for her to resign. Within days she was before a judge pleading guilty and being sentenced to 45 days in jail which was served. Then the icing on the cake was Governor Perry cutting state funding to the Public Integrity Unit because she refused to resign.

Let’s look at what happened with Stick. His mugshot was apparently online for a month with Mugshots before anyone noticed. Even when the press found out, they didn’t look for documents to back up Stick’s claims of innocence. The arrest documents and dash cam video were not pursued at all. They were not made public until someone else obtained and posted them on their website. Now they are gone. Just like the Mugshots photo.

There is tremendous hypocrisy in the conduct of both Lehmberg and Stick. They both dealt with DWI offenders, she as a prosecutor and he as a municipal judge. Both held and still hold positions where their personal actions should exemplify the laws they uphold. Yet, they did not follow those laws.

Stick is seen in the full dash cam video arguing with the arresting officer about the validity of field sobriety tests and refusing them because the “big” officer made him anxious and there was a barely perceptible breeze ruffling his pant leg.

But where Lehmberg and Stick part company is that Stick has gone further by apparently attempting to find the loopholes necessary to escape the consequences of his actions.

Stick told Emily Ramshaw of the Texas Tribune that “blood tests and other evidence would vindicate me.” Yet, the arrest record shows Stick refused a blood test. A lie? Again, no repercussions to Stick from either his agency, the media or the legislature. He has gamely continued on, arguably the top law enforcement official at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

One can only imagine Stick’s reaction to a Medicaid provider who told him that his pen had slipped on the form or that he disagreed with the Medicaid Providers Manual.

It has been Stick’s handling of “credible allegations of fraud” against Medicaid providers and the lack of due process that led to the swift passing of SB1803 this past legislative session. After all here is a man that told a provider that “if Jesus Christ were a Medicaid provider, he would find a program violation.”

Yet Stick seems to refuse to take his day in court as his hearing has been continually delayed for a year in the apparent hope of some technicality getting him off the hook. “Gaming the system” it is called. For the past year, his hearing has been scheduled in the Travis County Criminal court practically every month because it gets rescheduled on and on. What this costs the Travis County courts and the arresting police officer in time and money, we don’t know. But Stick who is responsible for ferreting out Medicaid waste, fraud and abuse, seems to be creating his own for the taxpayers of Travis County.

Stick’s duplicitous behavior is representative of what is wrong with the allegations of massive fraud that have been made against Medicaid providers by Stick and others. The allegations have been made but not backed up by fact.

The situation is aptly summed up by the lawyers for Antoine Dental Centers in their closing brief for the State Office of Administrative Hearings, submitted last month:

“One year, 5 months, and 20 days ago the OIG levied a 100% payment hold against ADC, alleging fraud and making grand claims that ADC was committing hundreds of serious program violations that imperiled the solvency of the Texas Medicaid program. When the OIG was forced to simply present its claims in a “show cause” hearing, the evidence proved, at best, no fraud and only a single type of program violation; namely, misplaced models for three patients whose quality of care is not questioned. Worse, it appears that the OIG has concocted and publicly spewed a totally unbelievable lie: providers like ADC supposedly bilked an unknowing State agency and its inept agent TMHP out of millions of dollars by putting braces on unqualified children. The truth is exactly the opposite. It is the State of Texas, not the providers, that governed every aspect of the orthodontic program and the pre-authorization process. HHSC told TMHP what to do, and TMHP did exactly what they were told to do. Anything else is an after-the-fact creation by an agency looking for a scapegoat.”

Consequently, TDMR again makes publicly available Jack Stick’s arrest records.

The case should be resolved swiftly.  He is either innocent or guilty. No more gamesmanship.