A former Los Angeles County employee said he would not back down from fighting for justice despite the fact that they continue to abuse him for exposing fraud at one of their hospitals. Patrick Porch will soon go to court against L.A. County and the public should be outraged, he said. Because, the county's taxpayers are going to pay legal fees for the defendants.
Porch said he has suffered retaliation and threats to his life since he outed employees at Harbor UCLA Medical Center in Torrance for purchasing personal residential items with hospital expense money. About $900,000.00 in all was stolen, he said, though county officials denied that claim saying it was more like $50,000. Stolen money was something he thought county officials would want to know about.
After all, Harbor is playing a significant role in the saving of fellow county hospital King/ Drew.
"That money could have been used to save lives," said Porch.
But instead of thanks, he got continuously demoted, systematically blackballed and a flammable, chemical liquid thrown on him in a dark bathroom, for which he had to seek immediate medical attention.
He reported the attacks to the county supervisor's office that responded with, "We have found insufficient evidence to substantiate that these incidents occurred with the specific intent of harming you..."
Porch's troubles started in 2003, when as a projects manager in the mechanical department at Harbor he came across some questionable invoices.
"There were things like liner pipes... well being in construction for so long I know there's no such thing. I did some research and found out they were liners for ponds. We don't have ponds at the hospital."
There were also thousands of dollars worth of orders for brass plated kitchen and bathroom faucets, French doors with glass panes, ceiling fans, decorative outside lighting and other things "which were never used at Harbor UCLA or ever would be used," Porch said.
The invoices had been filled out by Porch's coworker, fellow projects manager Pat Cadwallader and signed off by then hospital CEO, Tecla Mickoseff who has since retired. Another project manager, Sally Acklin had also been signing invoices, he found. Porch has named all three of them along with the L.A. County Health Department, Harbor UCLA and Los Angeles County in his lawsuit. Last year, KNBC-TV did an investigative report on the case that aired in October. Mickoseff had said then, in light of Porch's accusations and subsequent proof, that "several employees had been fired, disciplined or forced into retirement."
Also, "the hospital's purchasing practices have been streamlined" and video cameras now watch over places where "loss of inventory has been a problem."
But the fired employees so far have been enjoying perks and benefits, said Porch, including having their legal fees taken care of by the county.
"They're going to spend two or three billion dollars just in legal fees to protect the CEO who they know has been a part of this. That right there puts a bitter taste in my mouth."
Meanwhile he has lost close to everything, he said, including a marriage, medical coverage for his child and treasured personal items that he had to sell to keep his home. He would have lost his house, he said, if it weren't for the African American faith based community who helped him raise over $2000 to pay his property taxes and overdue bills.
"We don't think it's fair," said Reverend Al Johnson, assistant pastor at Tree of Life Missionary Baptist Church in Watts.
"The thing that bothered me most was how the county tried to downplay the situation," he said.
"Without the support of the church, I would have probably ended up walking off the face of this earth," Porch said.
"I almost wished they would have burnt me up in that bathroom, I really did because I feel at least my child would have medical. It's a terrible feeling for a parent not to be able to take care of his kid."
Porch, a former football player for the Raiders, began his career with the county in 1984. He had planned to stay with them and retire at age 64 and send his child through college before the incident. He now wants to make sure that the nearly 60 percent of African Americans who make up the county's labor force never have to suffer his fate.
He is seeking damages for economic losses, lost wages, benefits, medical bills and emotional distress as well as punitive damages in an unspecified amount to be determined in court. Porch did not say when the case would go to trial.
"I've never backed down from a fight though," he said.
"I've always hated bullies."