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A widely publicized report by state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal — castigating the corporate governance of a penny-pinchming company that managed the mental health care of tens of thousands of Connecticut residents — put the company’s lawyer through the grist mill as well. Attorney Richard T. Keppleman’s alleged aiding of the doctor at the center of the AG’s 51-page account of corporate greed and corruption prompted members of the state’s legal community to peg the company as Connecticut’s “Enron” — and Keppleman as a lesson on why lawyers need to serve as their clients’ moral conscience. But six months after the release of the scathing report, Blumenthal has no plans to go after Keppleman’s law license, or proof that the Levy & Droney attorney was even unethical in advising Psych Management Inc.’s (PMI) board of directors, he said in an interview last week. Keppleman, meanwhile, charges that the attorney general not only unfairly discredited him, but misunderstood the ethical obligations that lawyers have to the companies they represent. A ‘FRIEND’ IN NEED Keppleman’s name appears more than a half dozen times in the Feb 14 report condemning PMI — Anthem Blue Cross-Blue Shield’s behavioral health subcontractor — and, in particular, PMI’s former medical director, Peter Benet, for depriving patients of needed psychiatric care, while padding their own wallets. PMI won the contract with Anthem as a nonprofit entity in 1996. But that corporation was quickly replaced by a for-profit structure based on a plan Keppleman put to management calling for rapid growth and large profits, the report found. Patient care suffered as a result. At the same time PMI management approved dividends for company shareholders, it was withholding reimbursements that its mental health care providers were owed and aggressively pressuring them into curtailing coverage for medically necessary treatment, Blumenthal concluded. As the largest PMI shareholder, Benet was the main beneficiary of its corporate policies — and repeatedly turned to Keppleman to help convince other board members to take actions that would help his cause, according to the report. Listed in the report as Benet’s “personal friend,” Keppleman, it alleged, helped persuade board members to grant Benet large blocks of PMI shares through which Benet gained a controlling interest in the company. The shareholder dividends, the AG determined, enabled Benet to throw lavish parties and adorn his office with plush furnishings. Patients were subjected to arbitrary caps on coverage and transferred to the cheapest hospital beds available — even if they were several hours away from their families. When Benet divorced and needed a new house, however, he was allegedly issued dividend checks well before other shareholders. After Anthem learned PMI was holding payments to providers, an emergency PMI board meeting was held to consider Benet’s dismissal. Keppleman argued against his firing, suggesting the board was “overreacting,” the report noted. Benet, it added, eventually received a lucrative “golden handshake” deal. The report calls for stripping Benet of his license to practice medicine. In addition, Blumenthal said his office is attempting to negotiate a settlement with Anthem in lieu of it filing suit on behalf of the company’s policyholders. GRATUITOUSLY NAMED? Blumenthal’s account of PMI’s mismanagement prompted the lawyers who serve on The Connecticut Law Tribune’s advisory board to approve a commentary piece imploring lawyers to be the source of ethical values in business settings. In a recent letter to advisory board members, however, Keppleman claimed that the authors of the report “threw my name in gratuitously, apparently fueled by malicious statements made by enemies of the CEO with whom I was associated. �If and to the extent management [at PMI] engaged in improper conduct, it was without any advice, approval or support from me.” Furthermore, Keppleman stated in the letter: “I don’t believe that the authors of the Attorney General’s report had any experience with, or understanding of, the appropriate (and limited) role of counsel in a business context. In fact, not withstanding all the vilification, the report does not identify or claim any evidence of professional wrongdoing on my part.” Reached for comment, Keppleman was reluctant to discuss the matter, but noted that he owns no shares of PMI stock, and was just abiding to his ethical obligations to the company’s management. In an interview, Blumenthal charged Keppleman with being an “enabler of Dr. Benet. But that is not to say that his [Keppleman's] actions were necessarily illegal,” he noted. Blumenthal said not mentioning Keppleman by name would have made the report incomplete and led to questions about his identity. Keppleman, the attorney general maintained, “was more than a silent bystander.” “His statements at [PMI] board meetings,” Blumenthal added, ” � bolstered our contention that PMI � essentially had the goal of making money, not a priority of providing adequate coverage for Anthem enrollees.”

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