UPDATE, October 21, 9:08 a.m.: Steve Brigham avoided a court hearing after
A disgraced physician and former abortion provider has been ordered to appear in court Wednesday to explain why he failed to turn over ownership of his chain of abortion clinics when his license was revoked last year.
Steven Brigham was ordered by Judge Walter Koprowski to appear in state Superior Court in Essex County, New Jersey, and will face questions over his failure to respond to a subpoena seeking information about the abortion clinics, reported the New Jersey Star-Ledger.
Brigham has been unable to practice since 2010, and his medical license was revoked in 2014 by the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners after the board found that he had committed several counts of gross negligence, deception, and official misconduct. Brigham was ordered to pay $560,000 in court fees and fines.
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State law required that he divest from the clinics he owned in Elizabeth, Mount Laurel, Paramus, Phillipsburg, Toms River, Woodbridge and Voorhees. Along with those locations in New Jersey, Brigham’s corporation also lists offices in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Since the 1990s, Brigham has operated a reportedly dangerous practice, despite repeated complaints to authorities from reputable abortion providers.
Brigham allegedly turned over the business in 2014 to Vikram Kaji, the company’s medical director and a physician who has his own criminal past. Kaji’s medical license was suspended in 1993 after admitting to allegations that he had sexually abused patients in Pennsylvania.
Brigham hired Kaji in 1996, and promoted him to medical director in 2010.
Kaji denied he was the owner during an unannounced inspection on April 22 by officials from the Division of Consumer Affairs. Kaji has reportedly been charged with abetting a fraud, and state regulators are seeking to suspend or revoke his license.
The New Jersey Attorney General’s office began seeking information about Brigham’s clinics in June, and Deputy Attorney General Bindi Merchant made nine inquiries over the following three months with Brigham and his attorney.
Kaji’s “ownership of American Healthcare Services is a sham transfer and thus constitutes the use or employment of dishonesty, deception, misrepresentation, false promise or false pretense,” according to a complaint filed by Merchant in June, reported the Star-Ledger.
Reproductive rights advocates have long been skeptical of Brigham’s transfer of his clinics to Kaji.
Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that she was not surprised by Brigham’s actions.
“This is the type of deceptive activity we’ve come to expect from him. But I am surprised the state would accept this as being in compliance with their [divestiture] order, since Kaji is clearly unable and unsuitable to be running abortion clinics in New Jersey,” Saporta said. Brigham is clearly trying to … continue to maintain control over the clinics.”
Marie Tasy, executive director of New Jersey Right to Life, has asked the attorney general to shut down the clinics and bring new charges against Brigham.