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Harrell Robinson

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When Dr. Harrell Robinson walked into the surgical suite to start a liposuction procedure on Maria Garcia he was already in a world of trouble.

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Now that you have established your target, walk up to the door and knock.

This is the step that even some veteran investigative reporters like to avoid until the very end. How can you let a subject know that you are investigating them? Won’t they start shredding records, threatening potential whistleblowers, putting cameras in the parking lot to capture you talking to patients?

They may do all those things. But here are three good reasons to talk to your subjects early.

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When you find a doctor who you suspect of insurance fraud, tax violations or some other financial misdeed, it’s a good idea to check his neighbors, business partners and family members.

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When word hit the grapevine that the Madre Maria Ines Teresa Health Center in Santa Ana had prescription painkillers for the asking, the place couldn't keep them in stock.

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Low on cash, his reputation shredded by patient complaints about botched plastic surgeries, Dr. Harrell Robinson must have felt he had a guardian angel when Magdalena Annan approached him.

Annan ran the beatific sounding Madre Maria Ines Teresa Health Center at 1523 Broadway Street in Santa Ana, which targeted Southern California immigrants.

Picture of William Heisel

Some physicians cater to the immigrant community out of public service or cultural affinity. Others, like Dr. Harrell Robinson, end up there because they ruined their own reputations with English-speaking patients.

The Southern California cosmetic surgeon shared an Anaheim office with Dr. Andrew Rutland, the doctor who is now accused in the death of Chinese immigrant Ying Chen.

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