Therapeutic Strategies ordered to pay up

GARNER The North Carolina Department of Labor just wrapped up their investigation and found the owner of Therapeutic Strategies to owe nearly $29,000 in back pay to 18 of its former employees.

The lights are now out, doors are locked and the mail is stacked up at Therapeutic Strategies in Garner. It's a community support agency that’s part of the state's mental health reform. The agency helps those with mental illness or substance abuse problems get help. Now it appears to be shut down. Its owner Kathryn Wellman is also nowhere to be found.

During our original investigation, several former Therapeutic Strategies employees sat down with us and said Wellman has been given too many chances to pay as they filed complaints with the state back in the summer. Since then they say they've heard empty promises and haven't received a dime of back pay. One of those former employees Broni Ademski. She’s owed back pay and said, “You're steadily getting behind, spiraling downward, needing more money to stay afloat, so it's horrible as it affects every aspect of your life."

During our investigation, we found Wellman with a home in a gated Johnston County community, driving a luxury Mercedes, and enough spare change to donate thousands to political candidates less than two months ago.

During our original investigation we caught up with Kathryn Wellman outside her Garner office but she wasn’t willing to talk on camera. But she assured Troubleshooter Diane Wilson she wanted to pay back her former employees. She admitted not only has she not paid past, but even present employees for months because she just doesn't have the money.

At that time, she told us she's trying to rebuild and get loans to pay 'back-salary', 'back-rent' on the office, and personal bills. But Wellman says the loans were rejected and now it appears to be the end of Therapeutic Strategies.

To date - despite several promises - Wellman has not paid the claims with the Department of Labor. This isn't the first time she been ordered to pay up, in 2007, Wellman was ordered to pay-back Medicaid for billing overcharges of more than $110,000. She has less than $8,000 to payback on that bill.

We tried to contact Wellman, but she did not return our calls or e-mails. Some former employees are taking matters into their own hands and have filed or are filing court papers against Wellman.

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