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Doctor who once employed Aaron Rossi calls him a 'pathological liar' in a new court filing

Aaron Rossi
Eric Stock
/
WGLT
Reditus CEO Aaron Rossi faces a seven-count complaint from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation accusing him of writing unauthorized prescriptions and spending company funds without authorization when he worked at a Bloomington orthopedics company.

A Bloomington doctor who Aaron Rossi previously worked for has testified that the Reditus CEO stole from his business, illegally prescribed drugs and falsely claimed he was a doctor.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lawrence Nord, who is now retired, gave a deposition earlier this month in lawsuits involving Rossi. It was included in a new court filing from Dr. Malcolm Herzog, a plaintiff in one of the lawsuits. Herzog argued the court should unseal evidence in the case.

Springfield attorney Don Craven called the testimony “startling.” Craven is representing WGLT and other area news media that also are seeking to have the protective order lifted.

“With this kind of stuff in the public record, what’s the purpose of a protective order?” Craven asked during a video call with reporters on Tuesday.

Business partner James Davie accuses Rossi of squeezing him out of the company and using Reditus funds to spend lavishly on himself and his family.

Rossi no longer has any control of Reditus business operations after the company was recently placed into a receivership. The Pekin company made millions of dollars through state contracts as a leading coronavirus testing company in Illinois.

In Nord’s deposition, he describes how his relationship with Rossi deteriorated after Rossi took over business operations at the practice Nord co-owned.

“He was charming…. He took us into his confidences and we trusted him to run the office affairs in an honest way and he didn’t. He did nothing more than enrich himself,” Nord states.

Nord said he retired in 2017, but prior to that he advised his former business partner, Dr. Brett Keller, to fire Rossi, saying Rossi had a “narcissistic, caustic attitude” toward him when he would ask about financial details involving their practice.

Keller fired Rossi in April 2018 after an employee of Rossi, Jim Woodward, told Keller that Rossi wrote a prescription in Woodward’s name for painkiller medications that he legally can’t do, according to Nord.

Nord said when Woodward came to pick up the prescription, he later learned from Rossi that some of the opioids were for himself, according to the deposition. Nord said Keller then called Bloomington Police to further investigate Rossi’s illegal prescription writing. BPD previously denied WGLT’s request for records in that probe.

Nord said Woodward was dying of kidney cancer at the time. He said when Woodward’s insurance company found out he’d received a prescription for opiates, it excluded him from a cancer study and treatment program. Woodward died a year later, Nord wrote in the deposition.

Nord also said Rossi charged personal items on the office credit card and wrote himself large checks totaling about $1.3 million from 2014 to 2016. He said Rossi charged personal items, including cases of wine, expensive clothing and jewelry.

Doctor title

Nord said Rossi lied to him when he asked in 2011 if he could join his practice in orthopedic surgery. Rossi later told him it was too late to apply for a medical residency program. Nord said he later found out Rossi had not met eligibility requirements to apply, yet he continues to represent himself as a physician.

“Rossi is not a licensed physician in Illinois, let alone in the United States,” Nord said in his deposition. “He’s a pathological liar.”

Nord said a representative of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation instructed Rossi in 2014 to stop referring to himself as a physician. The agency, which handles all professional licensing in Illinois, later investigated Rossi for many of the charges Nord included in the deposition. The status of that investigating is not known.

Rossi’s response

Rossi, 39, of Bloomington, has hired a crisis management firm that claims a coordinated campaign is trying to destroy his reputation.

“This filing is nothing more than the inadmissible notes and unsupported claims from someone who threatened Aaron Rossi. It’s further evidence that there’s a coordinated effort underway to destroy Aaron's reputation,” said spokesperson Natalie Bauer Luce. “Aaron is proud of his record of building a successful business and creating hundreds of jobs for the community, and he will continue to defend himself against these baseless claims.”

Craven said the fact that Rossi has public relations help is further evidence Rossi doesn’t need the court to protect his image by keeping some documents under seal. “Each parties' ability to tell their own story and willingness to tell their own story defeats the purpose of having the gag order in this case at all,” Craven said.

A Tazewell County judge is expected to rule on the request to lift the protective order at a hearing on May 2.

Rossi also faces a criminal trial on tax fraud charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.