Inmate health care company for Milwaukee County Jail charged with intentionally falsifying health care records

NOW: Inmate health care company for Milwaukee County Jail charged with intentionally falsifying health care records

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – The company contracted to perform inmate health care at the Milwaukee County Jail is being charged with intentionally falsifying health care records.

According to a criminal complaint obtained by CBS 58, Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc. is accused of “making multiple false entries” into Terrill Thomas’ patient healthcare record.

Terrill Thomas was a Milwaukee County Jail inmate who was locked in his cell without water from April 17, 2016 until he died of dehydration on April 24, 2016.

The complaint alleges that a review of jail surveillance footage showed Armor Correctional employees walking by Thomas’ cell without stopping or never appearing at his cell at all when at the same time the employees recorded they medically assessed Thomas. The complaint says at one point an Armor Correctional employee fabricated blood pressure and pulse readings that were never performed on Thomas.

As the investigation continued, police say Armor Correctional employees similarly falsified patient health care record entries for other inmates in Thomas jail subpod during April 21-23, 2016. There are seven counts of "intentionally falsity health care record" totaling to a possible fine of $175,000. To read the full complaint, see below.

Last week, three jail employees were charged in death of inmate Terrill Thomas.

The criminal complaint filed Wednesday does outlines the actions of three staffers -- but charges are filed against the company, Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc.

Armor says all three employees are no longer with the company. They sent us a statement today saying:

"Armor has not had an opportunity to review any information related to these allegations. However, the company would never condone any criminal conduct by any of our employees. Our employee handbook, our policies and procedures, and our continuous training firmly states that patient care is first and foremost. The charges are based upon the alleged failures of three individuals."

The statement continues:

"This is not a reflection of Armor’s culture or representative of the many care-providers dedicated to providing medical and mental health treatment in the Milwaukee County Jail. At the jail, approximately 37,000 health screenings occur annually which facilitates an additional 90,000 medical, mental health, and dental patient encounters.

The company intends to vigorously defend all claims. Although for privacy reasons we cannot comment directly on any current litigation, as we have stated before, any loss of life is tragic. The company and its employees remain committed to our core principles of consistent, compassionate, and quality patient care."

The county executive's office won't say whether Armor is still providing services at the jail, but they are "cooperating with the DA's investigation."

"The complaint doesn't just lay out problems with individuals, isolated cases of an individual employee making a mistake or committing misconduct. The complaint alleges a pattern and practice of falsifying medical records by multiple Armor employees not just with Mr. Thomas but with other inmates at the jail," said Attorney Hank Balson, Budge and Heipt, PLLC in Seattle.

Attorney Hank Balson is part of a team of lawyers that represent Terrill Thomas' estate. They say they became involved because they've worked on a number of jail death cases. He also says the charges against a whole correctional corporation are rare.

"We think it sends a strong message that people are looking at what's going on inside of jails and will hold people accountable for misconduct that occurs there," said Balson.

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