2017 CLEAR Award Recipients

CLEAR Investigative Excellence Award (Individual)  |  Robert Herbert

The CLEAR Investigative Excellence Award (Individual) recognizes an investigator who has demonstrated exceptional performance in a particular case, or has a history of excellent performance beyond what is expected or required, resulting in a direct and significant impact to the protection of the public or consumer interests. CLEAR is pleased to present the 2017 Investigative Excellence Award to Special Investigator, Robert Herbert, of the Alabama Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors.

Mr. Herbert has been employed by the Board for ten years, during which he has repeatedly proven to be extremely effective in successfully navigating complex investigations. In a case which stemmed from an initial complaint filed in 2013, Investigator Herbert was tasked with investigating the owner of Commodore Steel Buildings, who was in the process of constructing a metal building for a church. The complaint indicated that the building was possibly substandard and posed a significant safety risk to the congregation.

Investigator Herbert employed a series of investigative practices to obtain evidence in this case, including establishing direct contact with forty-eight Building Code Officials, and undertaking extensive research of documents which indicated the owner may have fraudulently utilized the identities of four professional engineers when he created, and in some cases altered, design drawings for the buildings he sold. During a construction site visit, Investigator Herbert learned that the owner held a General Contractors license. This led to the owner being called to testify at a hearing before the General Contractors Board, where his General Contractor license was revoked.

During the hearing before the Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Board, Investigator Herbert facilitated the use of web conferencing software to allow the professional engineer witnesses located in Texas, Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee to testify remotely. The Board found the owner guilty and assessed him a monetary penalty of $25,000 and an additional $5,243.75 for the cost of the hearing.

The Board’s Investigative File was then referred to District Attorneys in Mobile and Baldwin County, Alabama, where the owner had also constructed buildings. Investigator Herbert was instrumental in assisting other investigative units with their efforts to ensure the safety of the public. As a result, the owner was ultimately charged with fifty-two felony criminal violations. Media coverage of the Board’s findings led to numerous individuals contacting the Mobile County Sheriff’s Department regarding their contact with the owner. It also gave the Board an opportunity to make the public aware of concerns with metal buildings purchased from the owner. Mr. Herbert has demonstrated a stalwart dedication to public safety and the citizens the Alabama Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors seeks to protect.

CLEAR Investigative Excellence Award (Group) | Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations and Denver District Attorney's Office, Second Judicial District

The CLEAR Investigative Excellence Group Award recognizes a team that has demonstrated exceptional performance in a particular case, or has a history of excellent performance beyond what is expected or required, resulting in a direct and significant impact to the protection of the public or consumer interests. CLEAR is pleased to present the 2017 Investigative Excellence Award to the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies – Division of Professions and Occupations and Denver District Attorney’s Office, Second Judicial District.

In early August 2016, the Colorado Medical Board (CMB) received a complaint concerning the unlicensed practice of medicine by an individual representing himself as a licensed physician. CMB staff determined the individual was in fact not licensed as a physician, but rather as a Surgical Assistant. After speaking with the complainant and observing the injuries sustained as a result of the medical services provided, CMB’s then Executive Director, Ms. Karen McGovern, called law enforcement for assistance. It was determined the District Attorney’s Office would pursue a criminal complaint while the Division of Professions and Occupations handled administrative proceedings.

A swift and coordinated effort was made by the Denver District Attorney’s Office and the Division’s Office of Investigations to serve an on-demand subpoena for patient records and to notify the respondent of the complaint. Upon entering the facility, investigators were informed that the respondent was currently performing surgery. With the assistance of the Denver Police Department, medical assistance was secured for the patient and the surgery stopped. Once the safety of the patient was assured, the respondent was questioned and admitted to operating without a physician’s license in the State of Colorado, but claimed to hold a license in Mexico. The respondent was then arrested by Denver Police.

The successful investigation into this case presented an additional layer of complexity due to the language barrier between the investigative team and the respondent and victims, as well as the immediate danger facing current and potential patients of the respondent. Were it not for the fluidity and teamwork of the individuals involved in this investigation, additional lives may have been endangered, or lost, as a result of the fraudulent practice of the respondent. Ultimately, the respondent was charged with 126 criminal violations, with the possibility of additional civil charges to be filed by his victims. He subsequently plead guilty to second-degree felony assault, criminal impersonation and the unauthorized practice of medicine.

The cross-collaboration demonstrated by the Division of Professions and Occupations’ Office of Investigations, the Colorado Medical Board and the Denver District Attorney’s Office is a shining example of consumer and public protection at its finest.

Regulatory Excellence Award  |  Marc Seale

The CLEAR Regulatory Excellence Award recognizes an individual, team, program or agency demonstrating an outstanding contribution to the enhancement of occupational or professional regulation, regulatory processes, or consumer and public protection. The individual, team, program or agency must have demonstrated exceptional leadership, vision, creativity, results and outcomes above and beyond the regular functions of the job or expectations, and beyond what is normally achieved. CLEAR is pleased to present the 2017 Regulatory Excellence Award to Marc Seale, Chief Executive and Registrar of the United Kingdom Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

First joining the organization in 2001, Mr. Seale is now the longest serving CEO amongst the nine statutory regulators of health and care professions in the UK. During Mr. Seale’s tenure, the HCPC has expanded from 12 to 16 health and care professions, with a registrant base that has grown, with the addition of the social work profession, to over 350,000.

Professional and occupational regulators around the globe are experiencing increasingly common challenges: from a public whose trust and confidence appears to be more easily lost; a media who question whether the public interest is really being protected; and from governments who feel pressured to impose greater oversight and accountability on regulators. In jurisdictions where single-profession regulators were commonly established, pressure to move towards different models that operate more effectively, ethically and efficiently, while also rebuilding public confidence and trust, is mounting.

Under Mr. Seale’s leadership, the Health and Care Professions Council is widely recognized for having established the principle that multi-professional regulators can be effective, efficient and ethical—and to that end, the HCPC is seen as a model by others around the world - in large part due to Mr. Seale’s demonstrated excellence in regulatory leadership. The high regard in which Mr. Seale is held is illustrated by the number of governments and regulators from a variety of jurisdictions have sought his counsel and expertise, including those in Australia, Canada, Ireland and the United States of America. Mr. Seale is a passionate regulatory leader, leading the development and implementation of new processes aligned with the HCPC's commitment to protecting the public.

Consumer Protection Award  |  Joe Neguse

The CLEAR Consumer Protection Award recognizes an individual who has innovatively contributed to enhancing a broader public understanding of regulatory issues with respect to consumer and public protection, and citizen advocacy. In lieu of or in addition to regulation enforcement efforts, the nominee shall have successfully demonstrated public information and consumer outreach and education efforts and initiatives.

CLEAR is pleased to present the 2017 Consumer Protection Award to Joe Neguse, former Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. Under the leadership of Mr. Neguse, Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies (“DORA”) has expanded its core mission of protecting the public by greatly expanding its consumer outreach and advocacy programs.

In one of his first actions shortly after being appointed by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper in 2015, Mr. Neguse launched a “Predatory Practices Task Force,” made up of representatives across all DORA Divisions. This task force was created as a means to identify ways to combat particular predatory practices and create a cross-divisional, collaborative approach to consumer advocacy and educational outreach. This approach has generated critical consumer protection, citing victories in 2016 such as the Division of Insurance recovering roughly $8.3 million for Colorado consumers, and as the result of investigation into sexual harassment that led to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawsuit, and a $1 million settlement, representing the largest of its kind in the state’s history.

The Department’s collective efforts have received extensive media coverage over the past two years. As a team, the Department has worked tirelessly to expand consumer education outreach programs statewide, including two consumer telephone “hotlines” deployed in November 2016. In particular, DORA has implemented an award-winning consumer protection media campaign, “Take 5 to Get Wise,” and launched “Senior$afe,” an extensive and cross-divisional educational effort addressing financial exploitation of senior-citizens across Colorado.

In sum, the Department, under Mr. Neguse’s leadership, truly embraced collaboration, modernization, and innovation to better protect consumers in the State of Colorado and enhance a broader understanding of consumer and regulatory issues.

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