NewsTeam 10 Investigates


State orders East Co. treatment center to pay back its employees

Workers say they're owed thousands of dollars
Posted at 5:07 PM, Feb 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-13 13:11:42-05

(KGTV) - The state has ordered an East County treatment center for teenagers to pay back its employees.

Team 10 has been following the controversy over Sovereign Health for the past several months. Now, the Labor Commissioner's Office has issued judgments in favor of several employees. The judgments range in amounts from a couple thousand to more than $27,000 owed to workers in wages.

The company, also known as Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center, told Team 10 last year that late paychecks were an issue with a new payroll vendor. Then in July, CEO Tonmoy Sharma wrote a letter to employees saying "Sovereign has no funds to pay" workers.

Attorney Jeff Bennion represents several former employees in a separate civil lawsuit. Bennion is skeptical people will actually receive the money from the Labor Board judgments. They are suing Sovereign Health and Sharma for fraud.

RELATED: Sovereign Health employees say paychecks are weeks late

"He has destroyed so many lives. His employees, they are working paycheck to paycheck. They have now gone about a year without getting their pay," Bennion said.

According to records from the Department of Social Services, the facility on Steele Canyon Road is still licensed through a company called "Adeona Healthcare." Representatives with the department last visited it on January 22 and met with Adeona's President, Rishi Barkataki, and Psych Training Director Dr. Michael Majeski.

In the facility evaluation report, Barkataki acknowledged that previous staff had not been paid through Sovereign Health of California and that they are still in litigation with Health Net. Barkataki indicated that "once the lawsuit is settled, all previous staff who were employed by Sovereign Health of California, will be paid."