America's burgeoning billion-dollar drug testing industry is allegedly rife with corruption. In the latest case, Calloway Laboratories, a Massachusetts drug testing lab, is to pay $20 million to settle allegations of an elaborate kickback scheme including fake drug tests, phony companies and forged signatures. Calloway Labs were indicted in 2010 for bribing sober living houses to administer unnecessary urine tests to their residents. The testing was funded by Medicaid, and ultimately cost the Massachusetts Medicaid program (MassHealth) millions of dollars in what Attorney General Martha Coakley has called "one of the most egregious abuses of the Medicaid program our office has handled." The Calloway settlement is the seventh to result so far from Massachusetts' investigation into corruption in the drug testing industry. Howard Appel, president of Millennium Laboratories, another drug testing company, claims fraudulent schemes and bribery are rampant in the industry, and that many companies use "smoke and mirrors" tactics to beat competition. "What you see is a proliferation of labs opening up that in trying to get a foothold in the business will offer anything, say anything and do anything to try to induce physicians to getting their business," Appel told American News Report. Ironically, Millennium was accused by Calloway of using fraudulent billing codes; the lawsuit was dismissed in February.
Guatemala's Mara Salvatrucha street gang is reportedly merging with Mexico's paramilitary Zetas cartel to dominate drug trafficking in Central America. Leaders of the two infamous organizations have allegedly held talks in prison about how to join forces and control trafficking routes between South America and the US; authorities say they've recorded these discussions. The Zetas have already encroached into the Northern Guatemalan countryside by collaborating with local drug kingpins, and reports say they've begun training the Maras in paramilitary techniques, as well as providing equipment. A small group of Maras are already believed to have been trained by Zetas at a camp in Mexico, and Zetas members have been heard talking about recruiting 5,000 more Maras. Meanwhile the Maras have apparently provided the Zetas with intelligence and committed crimes to divert law enforcement resources. Eduardo Velasco, head of an Interior Ministry task force in Guatemala, has seen increasing levels of organization and violence among the Maras. "As a result of this union with the Zetas, the Mara Salvatrucha have more ability to organize, strategize and maneuver," he says. "The Mara Salvatrucha want to build up their inventory of long-range weapons, grenades and drugs for their own use and for sale... they know the economic benefit is great for them and that the Zetas, as an outside group, need the Maras' network in order to grow inside Guatemala."
Having a DUI can be enough of an inconvenience, but repeat DUI offenders in Missoula County, Montana are about to become the latest in the state to be required to give up their lives to the court system. The "24/7 Sobriety Act," which was launched in South Dakota and has been replicated in a dozen counties in Montana since last October, forces repeat offenders to take twice-daily breath tests on site at local testing centers to prove they're sober. The tests come at the offenders' expense, with participants paying $3 per breath test, $10 per drug screen, or $10 a day for an alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet or a visual breath test done from home. Skipping a test means the county will put out an arrest warrant, while flunking a test means you go directly to jail. “The intent of the 24/7 sobriety program is not only to keep repeat DUI offenders off our streets, and keeping our streets safer, but to enact a cultural change and a behavioral change in repeat DUI offenders,” says Justice Department spokesman John Doran. “That’s the real basis of success–changing behavior.” Missoula County Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech says that she will also occasionally bring first-time DUI offenders into the program “to see if somebody has an issue with alcohol that might translate to what’s known as an addiction.” But given Montana's geography, an ankle bracelet is also an option for offenders who live far from local testing centers.
To mark the video release of the so-real-it-hurt movie on sex addiction, Shame, some of the world's leading sex addiction experts will be hosting a screening and panel discussion. On April 17 at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica, Clinical Director of the Center for Healthy Sex Alex Katehakis, Logo TV's Bad Sex host Chris Donahue and Love Addict: Sex, Romance and Other Dangerous Drugs author Ethlie Ann Vare will be discussing sex addiction as it's displayed in the film. "I love the idea of combining cinema and psychology to get people thinking about the cultural problems we face and how cultural and psychological forces co-create how we're evolving as human beings," says Katehakis, who is also the author of the sexual sobriety tome Erotic Intelligence. "I'm hoping this event inspires people to take SLAA more seriously, identify it in their friends and family so as to encourage them to get help, and for therapists to pay more attention to the signs and symptoms." Tickets can be purchased in advance here.
A mall Easter bunny in Virginia was hiding something besides Easter eggs and candy this holiday. While wearing his bunny suit at the Piedmont Mall in Danville, 24-year-old Joshua Lee Boiling was found in illegal possession of prescription narcotics. Mall employees contacted the police last Friday after noticing the bunny's unusual behavior during his breaks, suggesting possible criminal drug activity. When confronted by police, Boiling was found in possession of prescription pills. However, the police report indicated that his suspicious behavior did not take place while interacting with the children. And thankfully, the kids at the mall were spared the ordeal of seeing an Easter bunny walk out in handcuffs—Bolling was escorted to a private changing area during his arrest.
An auto insurance company has put forward the controversial claim that driving high may actually decrease your chances of an accident. A new study, conducted by United States auto insurance quote provider 4AutoInsuranceQuote.org, counters prior research that has indicated pot use while driving may double your risk of an accident. Researchers looked at statistics regarding traffic violations, accidents, and insurance prices and the results showed that traffic fatalities have dropped by 9% in states that have legalized the use of medical marijuana. "Marijuana users often say that when they are high, they feel like they are driving 80 miles per hour but actually are only going 30 miles per hour," says 4AutoInsuranceQuote.org CEO James Shaffer, "when somebody is drunk driving, on the other hand, they often feel like they are driving 30 miles per hour but are actually driving 80 miles per hour. This is what makes alcohol dangerous behind the wheel, and marijuana safe." 4autoinsurancequote.org believes that marijuana use can indirectly lower insurance rates due to the correlation between low accidents statistics amongst marijuana users. "The hypocrisy of it all is that if you get caught driving under the influence of marijuana, you will be fined and perhaps thrown into jail. What's worse is that your insurance rates will definitely increase due to the traffic violation," says Shaffer. "What law enforcement agencies and insurers do not understand is that driving while high is actually a safe activity." His claim will not go uncontested.