Corporate Terrorism

This article, entitled “Proove Post-Mortem: Corporate Terrorism” will document how these accusations were created and the former employees and consultants who were behind the attacks

American author and satirist Mark Twain once penned, “Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.”[i]  Apparently, this was the repeated advice of the Proove Biosciences Board of Directors given to management at the December 2016, March 2017, and May 2017 Board meetings as the company dealt with the ramifications of false allegations from former disgruntled employees irresponsibly published by a STAT News reporter.  This advice was consistent with the way businesses operated and journalists worked in days long past.

 

However, in this age of 24x7 news, social media, “fake news”, and journalists who willingly ignore the ethics and standards of the Society of Professional Journalism, every individual and business must respond directly and immediately to false allegations posted online.  Proove failed to do so, and thus the ridiculously absurd allegations invented by disgruntled ex-employees to intentionally mislead, and published by STAT News who intentionally chose to ignore primary sources — led to a government inquiry which began on Wednesday, June 7, 2017.

 

On Thursday, June 8, 2017, Proove issued a press release acknowledging the subpoena for documents and its full cooperation with the government’s inquiries. It went on to state, “Over the past 6 months, Proove has been subject to a handful of inaccurate stories initiated by STAT News that we believe have contributed to this latest action.  While we originally chose not to dignify these outlandish accusations with a response, we now understand that we can no longer ignore these false stories based on unreliable sources, and filled with erroneous accusations.  We will now respond to these many errors and misstatements promulgated by STAT News and spread by a few disgruntled former employees and consultants.  Proove is confident that the facts supported by verifiable and reliable sources will clearly restore our reputation.”[ii]  Click here to read it.

 

At the time, the Company also posted a comprehensive response to the false allegations. However, the Company’s web site has recently come down. Click here to read the statement.

 

In speaking with Proove founder and CEO, Mr. Brian Meshkin over the past several months, he has consistently said that the government inquiry would not find anything wrong with Proove’s business practices or its intentions.  After more than 7 months of reviewing materials, electronic files, and other primary sources, the government’s inquiry has not found any evidence of wrongdoing.  When I asked Mr. Meshkin, he said, “That’s because there was always an intention to do the right thing and a willingness to improve compliance practices when any gaps were observed.”

 

The Company’s statement posted online on June 8, 2017 said, “Proove® firmly asserts that its practices are within the confines of the law and consistent with OIG guidance.  In fact, Proove®’s solutions are aligned with the public health priorities of the Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services, as its technology platform is clinically-proven to reduce pain and accurately identify patients at risk for opioid misuse.   Proove® categorically denies all of the allegations embedded in these stories, the false source documents used, as well as unsubstantiated quotes by disgruntled, terminated former employee sources.   This isolated, outlier false stories stand in contrast to the objective, “glowing” news coverage previously published about Proove® and its CEO in other publications.    This story has created a “snowball” effect which must be addressed.  Ironically, the very issues raised in these articles are not weaknesses, but rather strengths.  Proove® welcomes the opportunity to share the facts and the truth.  Proove® is proud of its research, technology and business practices.  But most importantly, Proove® is proud of the outcomes that it achieves for patients dealing with chronic pain.   Proove® offers the only solution in the market that is proven to help clinicians achieve clinically-significant reductions in patient pain and accurately identify patients at risk for opioid abuse.  These false stories did a disservice to the cause of helping patients.  Rather than embarrassing Proove®, these stories are filled with holes and embarrassing for those who took part in it.  We are confident that truth always prevails and the facts are on our side.”

 

Unfortunately, the damage was done.  The former employees who engaged in behavior that Meshkin recalled Proove’s legal counsel referring to as “corporate terrorism,” were able to exact the revenge they sought.  They painted a salacious story, filled with lies – all of which could be easily disproved with any evidence or a professional journalist who would actually verify primary sources.  Their story was scintillating – “business pornography” – and thus drew on people’s curiosity.

 

Who are these former employees?  These “pretend whistleblowers”?  Well, it’s time that the whistle was blown on them.  As the empirical evidence shows, they were guilty of wrongdoing and had the intentions of doing so.  And in the actions they’ve taken, they destroyed a business, hurt its employees, and took advantage of public servants and wasted taxpayer resources in the U.S. Department of Justice to exact their personal revenge.  Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done to hold them accountable except put out the truth.  Simply, they are frauds.

 

Mr. Meshkin explained to me that after two of the three individuals were fired on August 21, 2015 for unethical behavior, the IT department at Proove performed forensic searches on their work laptops.  Not surprisingly, these two employees – Bruce Gardner and John Hubbard – had used their work laptops during work hours at the office to access their personal emails for their subversive behaviors and plans.  All of these emails were captured and stored by the company.  Now, we can see with their own words contained in their own emails what they planned and how unethical they are.

 

These three individuals are:

 

  • Bruce Gardner, an incapable former Vice President of Sales who after being demoted multiple times engaged in subversive behavior for a year plotting to invent false allegations. He has been an “unnamed former executive” in several news stories and his own emails show his incredible duplicity.
  • Bruce’s sidekick John Hubbard, a former Director of Account Management and Clinical Affairs, who conspired by Bruce and Danny to subvert Proove after being demoted twice.
  • A former physician consultant, Danny Schwarz who had lost his medical practice in Michigan, was consulting for various toxicology laboratories, and was terminated as a Proove consultant because he had a prescription medication addiction and was mentally unstable – as can be seen in his emails to Meshkin. Funny enough, Dr. Schwarz was actually quoted disparaging Meshkin in one of the STAT News articles – however Danny’s emails show the real story (that will be another article).

 

All three of this “corporate terrorists” have provided their own empirical evidence – their own personal emails – to prove their own wrongdoing and their intentions to defraud.

 

Allow me to share just a small outline of this empirical evidence from their very own emails all of which can be provided.

 

The three main characters in the insidious plot will be referred to by abbreviations: Bruce Gardner (BG), Danny Schwarz (DS) [who also used the alias that he admits to: John Viox in his emails] and John Hubbard (JH).

 

The documented records show that BG and JH were hired in 2012, and both signed the Employee Acknowledgement of Receipt of the Company’s handbook, as well as the Proove Biosciences, Inc At Will Employment, Confidential Information, Invention Assignment, and Arbitration Agreement.  Both were demoted and had pay reduced several times as the Company grew due to their inability to perform their jobs.  However, since they were long-time employees, the Company had a policy of trying to find a place for long-tenured employees. This was due to the good-nature of Proove’s founder, Brian Meshkin.  This good nature proved to be foolishness, but at least his intentions were good.  Danny Schwarz was a paid consultant to the Company. Unfortunately, he was not able to deliver on one project outlined in his professional services agreement, so the agreement was modified, and then after simplifying the tasks, he still could not do anything that was asked of him.  All of this is documented in emails between DS and Proove CEO Brian Meshkin.  Once the Company learned of his drug addiction problem, and his severe, unmanaged ADHD, the Company could no longer show him sympathy for his inability to perform his duties and terminated his consulting agreement.

 

Let’s go through this insidious plot of “corporate terrorism” by reviewing some of their emails from November 2014 through August 2015 – again, all documented in their own words.

 

  • On November 17, 2014, BG sent privileged and confidential information from Proove’s legal counsel about reimbursement rates to his personal email from his work email at 9:10 am – in clear violation of his confidentiality agreement and employee handbook.

 

  • On November 24, 2014, BG was demoted a 3rd At this point, BG’s responsibilities included working on the Company’s MolDx application with Palmetto – nothing of which was ever completed while he was employed; working on getting insurance contracts with an external consultant who provided 13 insurance contracts to Gardner that were hidden in his desk drawers and not executed until after his termination; and gaining hospital contracts – of which he did not close any contracts. The only one which was close to closing, he intentionally contacted them to ask them to not contract with Proove and contract with his new company. They contracted with Proove instead.  Again, all of this is documented.

 

  • On January 26, 2015, BG sent an email to Mahabir at Lambert Management Group whereby a contract entered into on December 20, 2014 giving BG a 2% kickback commission from Lambert on the fees paid by Proove Biosciences to Lambert for collection work conducted on workers compensation claims – a kickback in violation of employee handbook and other employment agreements. BG’s boss at the time, Proove’s CFO was completely unaware of this kickback arrangement which was again – a clear violation of the employee handbook.

 

  • By May 2015, while still employed with Proove, the insidious efforts of these three.

 

  • May 7, 2015 – Email between DS and BG detailing conversations they have been having about starting a new company, with email trail of emails from May 4, May 3, and April 30 detailing conversations they are having with other labs to try and compete with Proove – while employed by Proove.

  • May 17, 2015 – Email between DS and BG putting together NDA.

  • May 18, 2015 – Email from BG to DS with resume and signed NDA with JAS Genetics to compete with Proove

 

  • In June 2015, the conspiracy was well on its way though they were unable to actually get a new business off the ground.

 

  • June 11, 2015 – Email from BG to DS “Notes from Call” whereby they propose taking Proove proprietary information into JAS Genetics and integrating into AEON Clinical Laboratories.

  • June 11, 2015 – Email from DS alias John Viox to BG and JH outlining plan to fund new company

  • June 12, 2015 – Email from BG to DS and JH with minor edits to their proposal to AEON

  • June 14, 2015 – Email from DS alias JV to BG and JH sharing information with Cquentia Labs and Dave Cichy (NDA and proposal attached)

  • June 16, 2015 –Email from DS to AEON and BG and JH stating “we enjoyed speaking with your team last week” about “urine tox and genetics” with their new company.

  • June 16, 2015 – Email from BG to DS and JH to leave Thursday and meet Friday in GA with AEON – paid for by Proove expenses

  • June 17, 2015 – Email from BG to JH on proposal for Next Health USA to share Proove proprietary information with another lab

  • June 18, 2015 – Email from BG to David Potenza of Next-Health to share information about Proove with them to compete.

  • June 18, 2015 – Email from DS to BG, JH and AEON for them to come to AEON the week of June 22nd.

  • June 18, 2015 – Email from DS to BG talking about largest every fraud settlement of a skilled nursing facility in FL enticing him to try and come up with some false allegations against Proove

  • June 18, 2015 – Email from David Potenza of Next Health to BG, DS, and JS about meeting on July 9th.

  • June 18, 2015 – Email from DS to BG, and CQuentia about their proposal

  • June 19, 2015 – Email from JH to DS and BG on collaborating with Baylor School of Medicine on developing a competitive test to the Proove Opioid Risk test

  • June 19, 2015 – Email from BG to David Potenza, DS, and JH confirming their trip

  • June 19, 2015 – Email from JH to DS, BG and Cquentia Labs to review how Proove works.

  • June 20, 2015 – Email from DS alias JV to David Potenza to try and put together NDA.

  • June 21, 2015 – Email from Andrew Hillman of Next Health to DS, BG, and others at Next Health sharing information about Proove and then saying “I think much of Proove’s info is on the web site” for further information about what they were planning on trying to bring to Next Health

  • June 21, 2015 – Email from DS to Brian Dechairo at AssureRx to try and “keep this confidential” and share information about Proove with them.

  • June 21, 2015 – Email from DS to Sean George at Invitae, cc’ing BG and JH on trying to take Proove secrets to Invitae.

  • June 22, 2015 – Email from DS to JH and BG forwarding information shared with Brian_Fichter@icloud.com from Iverson Genetics

  • June 22, 2015 – Email from BG to DS and JH with a powerpoint presentation entitled “Selling My Old Car (1).pptx” that outlines their business plan to compete with Proove

  • June 24, 2015 – Email between DS alias JV and BG and JH on sharing news that Iverson would sign the NDA to get the proprietary information from Proove from them.

  • June 25, 2015 – Email from BG to AEON thanking him for talking to DS, JH and BG about collaborating.

  • June 26, 2015 – Email from BG to AEON providing his mobile number to call.

  • June 27, 2015 – Email from DS to JH and BG outlining their 3 year goals to AEON

  • June 28, 2015 – Email from BG to AEON outlining how they would take Proove trade secrets and customers to AEON to compete

  • June 29, 2015 – Email from BG to David Ptenza at Next-Health confirming a meeting in Dallas on July 9th and 10th

  • June 30, 2015 – Email from JH to BG and DS sharing a proprietary and confidential judicial decision and appeal on Proove testing with them to design their work to compete

  • June 30, 2015 – Email from JH to BG and DS sharing Proove’s confidential Product Monographs which included all product details, including algorithms, clinical data, market research, publications and more to “create the monograph for our addiction test. Bruce and I will begin business”

  • June 30, 2015 – Email from JH to BG and DS entitled “homework” where they discuss trying to steal the Proove Opioid Risk test and develop a business plan

 

  • In July 2015, while still employed by Proove, BG and JH are actively working with former consultant DS to defraud the company, share company proprietary information with competitors to compete with Proove, and plotting to invent false accusations so that they can get the “protection” they seek with a “whistleblower” lawsuit while they try to compete.

 

  • July 1, 2015 – Email between JH, BG and DS “PI Background Check Results” on working with AEON Clinical Laboratories

  • July 1, 2015 –Email between the JH, BG, and DS laying out “Homework –Danny and Bruce/John” building business plan to compete with Proove

  • July 1, 2015 – Email between BG, JH, and DS on their vision and 3 year goals of their business to compete with Proove

  • July 1, 2015 – Email between BG, JH, and DS pulling down proprietary and confidential study in workers compensation from Proove servers (TIDE Study) and sharing it among each other

  • July 1, 2015 – Email between BG, JH, and DS sharing information about Proove’s CME program on Medscape to do a “similar pgm to increase brand visibility and credibility”

  • July 2, 2015 – Email “Follow Up” from BG to Richard Hersperger CEO of Peachstate Health Management LLC d/b/a AEON Clinical Laboratories as a follow up to their meeting in GA to look at “next steps” and asking for a proposal – travel expenses paid for by Proove.

  • July 2, 2015 – Email between JH, BG, and DS to discuss how to increase payor acceptable of their new test to compete with Proove Opioid Risk test

  • July 6, 2015 – Email from BG to Richard Hersperger and including JH and DS in advance of their next call to share proprietary Proove secrets

  • July 7, 2015 – Email between JH, BG, and DS on building a slide deck to describe their new competitive venture of JAS Genetics

  • July 9, 2015 – Email from JH to BG and DS “Now & First 30-Day Plan” on their projections for genetic and toxicology testing to compete with Proove

  • July 9, 2015 – Email from BG to Steven Martinez, former independent distributor of Proove and friend of BG, to have SM provide Lien Services and BG to pay SM 3% for those services on Proove claims –- kickback compensation to BG and SM

  • July 10, 2015 – Email from BG to JAS Genetics attorney Ronald Chapman to set up a time to share confidential information with an attorney to evaluate Proove’s business practices to try and harm Proove

  • July 10, 2015 –Email from BG to Sonny Roshan at AEON Clinical Laboratories to set up conference call with him, DS and JH

  • July 10, 2015 – Email from JH to Peter Rousmaniere cc’ing BG, DS, AEON Clinical Labs, and Lester Sacks on developing a research project to compete with Proove.

  • July 11, 2015 – Email from DS to JH and BG making false allegations and defamatory and libelous statements against Proove and Brian Meshkin

  • July 15, 2015 – Email from BG to Proove distributor (Mike Murphy) containing NDA to review and sign

  • July 15, 2015 – Email from BG to Proove Distributor (Tony Rosson) as a follow-up to information discussed on the phone about new test in competitive company

  • July 16, 2015 – Email from BG to DS and JH on proposal to give to AEON Clinical Laboratories for them to set-up a competitive company to Proove, with a call request for July 20, 2015 and to reach agreement by July 22, 2015

  • July 17, 2015 –Email from JH to DS and BG on another competitive partner

  • July 17, 2015 – Email from BG to AEON Clinical Laboratories and including DS and JH sharing their proposal to compete with Proove and take secrets/information

  • July 17, 2015 –Email from BG to Proove Distributor (Tony Rosson) stating “We are getting close to finalizing the deal, will keep you posted” on competing with Proove

  • July 17, 2015 –Email from DS alias John Viox to JH and BG on developing competitive tests to the Proove Opioid Risk and Proove Pain Perception tests

  • July 19, 2015 – Email from DS alias John Viox responding to JH and BG about other potential laboratories to partner so they compete with Proove

  • July 21, 2015 – Email from DS to BG responding to proprietary information BG shared with DS on Proove Opioid Risk test and DS’s response to the information

  • July 21, 2015 – Email from DS to AEON Clinical Laboratories, Attorney Paul Suda and BG and JH on the initial term sheet set to AEON on June 18, 2015

  • July 21, 2015 – Email from DS to AEON and BG and JH responding to their term sheet and LOI

  • July 22, 2015 –Email from BG to Paul Suda at AEON Clinical Laboratories “Looking forward to joining the team” with his DOB, DL#, and contact information for employment

  • July 23, 2015 – Email from DS to BG and JH sharing proprietary information in a call with Pathnostics –another lab

  • July 23, 2015 – Email between BG and Proove distributor (Tony Rosson) on potential new tests in new company

  • July 23, 2015 – Email from AEON to BG providing Employment Agreement

  • July 24, 2015 – Email between DS alias (John Viox) and JH and BG about concerns over sharing Proove confidential information and how they were violating their own NDAs between each other, also disclosure of proprietary Proove information shared with Joe Clouse of NextGen Marketing Group; also disclosing that JH was trying to get another Proove employee “in the mix”.

  • July 24, 2015 – Email between BG, DS and JH, and AEON Clinical Laboratories, with an Employment Agreement for BG – while still employed by Proove

  • July 24, 2015 – Email between DS alias John Viox and BG discussing his potential compensation with AEON Clinical

  • July 26, 2015 – Email between DS, BG, and JH about on sharing proprietary Proove information with Apollo Toxicology Management, Jared DeRusha

  • July 26, 2015 –Email between DS, BG, and JH to Vince from Pathnostics disclosing proprietary trade secrets about Proove’s lab methodologies

  • July 27, 2015 – Email between DS Alias John Viox and BG and JH on NDA with Proove distributor Lance Hupfeld and respective NDA

  • July 27, 2015 – Email between DS and BG and JH on NDA with Apollo Labs and sharing Proove information to compete

  • July 28, 2015 – Email from DS admitted alias John Viox to BG encouraging him to file a Qui Tam against Proove because he “should be rewarded a % of the false claims” of which there aren’t any. DS attempts to let him know that his company JAS Genetics will compete with Proove and he “will always be safe” with equity in JAS Genetics “protecting..[him] should the qui tam case be accepted, with [gardner] as the plaintiff.” Clearly Gardner did not a have strong case, DS provided the attorney for JAS Genetics, Chapman, to handle the Qui Tam and was urging Gardner to take this step as an attempt to hurt Proove.

  • July 30, 2015 – Email from DS alias John Viox to BG and JH on trying to get another test to compete with Proove

 

  • By August 2015, Bruce and John were now employed by AEON Clinical Laboratories and Proove – without Proove knowing. And in an attempt to try and compete, they were still trying to get their JAS Genetics off the ground with Danny Schwarz and lawyer Robert Chapman.

 

  • August 3, 2015 – Email between DS, Joseph Clouse and BG and JH to set up a competitive lab to Proove

  • August 3, 2015 –Email between DS, BG, and JH on working with Matthew Jacobs on Clinical-Outcomes.org on setting up a competitive lab.

  • August 3, 2015 – Email between JH, DS, and BG on trying to partner with Theranos to compete with Proove.

  • August 4, 2015 – Email between JH, DS, and BG sharing information about Proove Managed Markets strategy, detailing discussion with Dr. Broadman of Sedgwick

  • August 4, 2015 – Email from DS alias JV to BG and JH about discussions with Dr. Broadbend and taking him from Proove

  • August 4, 2015 – Email between DS alias JV and JH and BG on taking Proove trade secrets to Spine Mark and CEO Marcy Rogers.

  • August 5, 2015 – Email between BG and JAS Genetics attorney, Ron Chapman about engagement letter questions to create a whistleblower complaint.

  • August 6, 2015 – Email between BG and Ronald Chapman stating that he will sign and return engagement letter

  • August 6, 2015 – Email between DS alias JV and JH and BG on challenging Proove testing and its research with meaningless accusations, it forwards efforts by JH and BG to try and get other employees at Proove to admit some type of wrong-doing which of course they were unsuccessful at doing

  • August 9, 2015 – Email between DS alias JV and BG and JH to try and place pressure to close Joe Clouse

  • August 9, 2015 – Email between DS and BG, and JH on trying to get a competitive lab set up with Yisroel Sigler of Consolidated Laboratory Management.

  • August 9, 2010 – Email between DS alias JV and BG and JH about a great conference call with Dividend Health sharing information from Proove, trying to get information about our CPT codes and mentioning an attempt to get information from an ex-employee

  • August 11, 2015 – Email from DS alias JV to Matthew Jacobs at Clinical Outcome cc’ing BG and JH stating that “I am using this account for privacy. Disregard John Viox; he was my best friend from High School. I am gone from Proove, but my associates are not.”

  • August 13, 2015 – Email from DS to BG and JH forwarding email from George Powell of Summit Diagnostics (a defendant in a claim by Proove against them for breach of contract) providing them with a boilerplate sales contract.

 

On August 21, 2015, Proove terminated both BG and DS.  I asked Meshkin what he thought of these three clowns and he said, “In reading through all of these emails after they were terminated, I was sick to my stomach.  How could people do this when I had been so generous and loyal to them?  Never in a million years would I thought that employees who had been given so much would try to hurt the company.  For Bruce, I had paid off his credit cards – $9,000 – and then gave him $45,000 to put as a downpayment on a house which his wife then used in a lawsuit against her sister that didn’t work for them.  For John, I had shown him loyalty, but then he stabbed me in the back.  And Danny, he couldn’t do anything but his marriage was on the rocks, he was broke, he lost his practice, and then after finding out about his drug addiction, we just couldn’t show him any more charity.”

 

From this experience with “corporate terrorism”, it is clear that Proove and Meshkin made some significant mistakes in how they handled these people and their accusations.  By keeping employees that should have been fired, Proove became vulnerable to these attacks.  Simply, that’s just being naïve.  By Meshkin being so generous, he crossed the line of an employer to a more personal, friendship relationship.  When her terminated the personal relationship, it was a bitter divorce and gives new meaning to being an “ex”.  And those three – two ex-employees and one ex-consultant – were angry and vengeful.

 

Secondly, “turning the other cheek” may sound good from a religious standpoint, but it is foolish in the real world. People, including the reporters in the media and government investigators, are willing to believe false allegations and act on them – without checking primary sources first.  So, you must respond directly and immediately to any false allegations.   And in this world of “fake news” where it seems anyone can say anything about another person or company, truth doesn’t matter anymore – perception does.  So when people lie about you, you must hit back immediately with the truth.   Certainly, we see this now in our politics where the President hits back immediately on Twitter when any accusation is made.

 

Believing that “the truth will eventually come out” doesn’t prevent the damages in the meantime.  We are no longer an “innocent until proven guilty” culture.  It is now a “guilty until proven innocent” or  “where there is smoke there is fire” culture that enjoys bad news, criticism, and controversy.

 

Sadly, these “Corporate Terrorists” achieved their victory.  They got the revenge they wanted. They hurt the Company and employees they wanted to hurt.  They were able to get others in the media and government to do their bidding – all by fabricating a bunch of lies without any evidence.  In fact, more than just the slander and libel defamation of these three individuals, the actions of BG, JH, and DS as employees and paid consultants were Misconduct violations of the law in the State of California. Click here to see. http://www.edd.ca.gov/UIBDG/Misconduct_MC_140.html

 

Ironically, it was the liars behind this “Corporate Terrorism” who violated the law. But now, through this expose, the truth is going to become widely known.  Maybe someday, this will be a book or a Netflix documentary.  It’s a really interesting series of events.

 

As the adage says, “don’t throw stones when you live in a glass house.”  Bruce Gardner, John Hubbard, and Danny Schwarz who started throwing “the stones” have been surrounded by glass that is now shattering.  I think I can hear the sound of broken glass already.

 

[i] https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/mark_twain_135280

[ii] https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/proove-responds-to-inaccurate-stories-from-stat-news-and-yesterdays-related-federal-document-subpoena-and-search-warrant-300471499.html