Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fraud whistleblower asks Chicago Schools Inspector General to review Save-A-Life/Ronald McDonald House program

Ronald McDonald, SALF president Carol Spizzirri (reportedly a twice-convicted shoplifter with fabricated medical & educational credentials), and Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan, who reportedly called Spizzirri "one of my heroes."

Medical fraud whistleblower Peter Heimlich has asked the Inspector General of the Chicago Public Schools to determine if approximately $62,000 paid by the schools to the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF) was properly administered.

Peter is the son of Dr. Henry J. Heimlich, developer of the Heimlich maneuver, the abdominal thrust treatment for someone who's choking. According to an ABC Chicago I-Team report, Dr. Heimlich was a medical advisor to SALF until he was "stripped of his position" three years ago.

In a letter yesterday, the younger Heimlich also asked Inspector General James Sullivan to "determine the veracity of claims made by SALF in order to advance their organization as a CPS vendor and to obtain CPS funding."

According a recent article in The Hill, "Save-A-Life, which provides first-aid training classes to school students, is under investigation by the Illinois Attorney General's Charitable Trusts Bureau."

From Heimlich's eight-page letter. Click here to download a copy; page to the end of this item for a viewable copy:
In response to a 2009 federal court subpoena and subsequent FOIA requests for any and all SALF training records, the Chicago Board of Education and CPS produced the following documents: a May 26, 1999 School Board resolution; 22 invoices with corresponding purchase orders dated from 2000-2007; an August 5, 2005 letter to Schools CEO Arne Duncan from SALF founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri accompanying a six-page grant application; and a December 8, 2005 letter from Mr. Duncan to Ms. Spizzirri approving the grant request.

This paucity of records, combined with the concerns discussed below, raises legitimate questions regarding whether or not SALF fulfilled the obligations contracted by and paid for by CPS.
8/5/05 "Dear Arne" letter, grant request for SALF's CPS/McDonald's program

12/8/05 "Dear Carol" letter from Arne Duncan approving SALF/Ronald McDonald House program

Arne Duncan awards $49K Chicago Schools funds to Save A Life Foundation

Ronald McDonald House Charities awards $87,500 to Save-A-Life Foundation, 2004-06

The federal court subpoena results may have been documents obtained by Chicago attorney Wayne Giampietro who represented Heimlich and two other individuals in a failed defamation lawsuit filed by SALF in 2007. According to a July 14, 2009 Cincinnati CityBeat report by Kevin Osborne:
An Illinois-based organization dropped its defamation lawsuit this month against local blogger Jason Haap and two other critics. The two-year-old case was widely viewed as having the potential to set a precedent involving First Amendment protections for online commentary.

Attorneys for the Save-a-Life Foundation filed a motion for voluntary dismissal July 7 in federal court, and U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly granted it two days later.

In the lawsuit, Save-a-Life had alleged that (blogger Jason) Haap, Peter Heimlich and Dr. Robert Baratz conspired to harm the foundation’s reputation by distributing false information to agencies that fund it, as well as serving as sources for a derogatory report on Save-a-Life that aired on WLS-TV, Chicago’s ABC affiliate...The Save-a-Life case was the eighth most-viewed case on a Harvard Law School-affiliated Web site that monitors Internet-related free speech cases.
In an October 16, 2009 follow-up, Osborne reported that "The Save-a-Life Foundation filed (dissolution) papers with the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office on Sept. 17. The action ends the existence of the 16-year-old corporation."

Heimlich was interviewed by Brian Ross in a 2007 ABC 20/20 report about his father, Dr. Heimlich's New 'Maneuver': Cure AIDS With Malaria.

On his MedFraud website, Peter Heimlich is soliciting information for a book he's writing. The list of topics includes the Save-A-Life Foundation and Carol Spizzirri, who, according to a recent San Diego Reader article, is now living in a mobile home park in San Marcos, California.

Dane Neal of SALF, Dr. Heimlich, Ciprina Spizzirri, Carol Spizzirri at the White House (2005) 

Heimlich request to Chicago Schools Inspector General to review Save-A-Life funding, 1/5/11