|Kumar, center, with Gov. Snyder, right|
By Brandon Hall
(Email him at WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com)
The race for State Rep. in the 103rd District took a dramatic and disturbing turn this week when a popular favorite to win the seat, a Doctor with deep connections to Lansing, was arrested for sex crimes with a teen and may face medicare fraud charges.
Six months ago this week, Dr. Vijay Kumar sat on the floor of the Capitol side by side with Michigan legislators as Governor Snyder gave his "State of the State" address as the guest of State Senator Darwin Booher. This morning, Kumar sits in a Northern Michigan jail cell accused of sexually assaulting a child over 13 but under 16, and using his role as a care provider to facilitate the attack.
Prosecutors allege Kumar, who is also Chairman of Michigan's Board of Physical Therapy after being appointed by both Governors Granholm and Snyder, "coerced the underage victim to submit to his authoritative position."
Kumar has been around Lansing for years, even helping get legislation passed by Governor Snyder, subsequently earning Dr. Kumar a coveted invite to the Governor's signing ceremony-and a seat right next to the Governor.
According to Community Rehab Services:
"Dr. Vijay Kumar, DPT, PhD, MD as chairperson for the Michigan Board of Physical Therapy, was invited on July 1, 2014 by Governor Rick Snyder for the signing of Senate Bill No. 690 Direct Consumer Access... Direct Consumers Access allows patients to go directly to a Physical Therapist for evaluation and treatment without a physician’s referral. We are very excited to become a Direct Access state."
|Kumar, center, holding a newly signed Public Act with Gov. Snyder|
"Vijay is an outstanding professional and has shown great commitment to the practice of physical therapy in Michigan," said Snyder in a 2011 press release re appointing Kumar. "I am thankful for his willingness to continue service on the board."
The release also says "The 11-member board plays an advisory role, and assists the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs with overseeing the practice of physical therapists."
Gov. Granholm also praised Kumar upon appointing him in 2006.
"It is a great and noble privilege to serve the people of Michigan," Granholm said. "I know that you will do the people's work with excellence and integrity and that you will never take lightly the responsibility the people have given you."
According to 9+10 News:
"Dr. Vijay Kumar was arrested yesterday for sex crimes against someone under the age of 16. In a separate case, State Police seized evidence from all of his local clinics. Kumar is also running for the Michigan House.
Endorsers say the news is shocking.
"I was rather surprised," says Gary Klacking. "Really shocking to hear about the charges yesterday."
Ogemaw County Clerk Gary Klacking recently endorsed Dr. Vijay Kumar's political campaign.
After the recent allegations, that has changed.
"About a month ago, Vijay asked for an endorsement from me and I did give him my endorsement,"
Klacking says. "It was done in good faith because of what I knew about him at that time. However, since that time, based on what has transpired, I'm withdrawing my endorsement."
According to court documents, Kumar "coerced the victim to submit to his/her authoritative position" to engage in sexual contact.
State Police say they are also investigating five of his local clinics for other crimes.
"There was evidence taken from the scene which I cannot elaborate on at this time, but I will tell you this is related to a Medicaid fraud, insurance fraud of false claims," says 1st Lt. Mel Mathews of the Michigan State Police, West Branch post."
|Kumar, left, with Sen. Booher as a guest at Gov. Snyder's "State of the State" earlier this year|
|Kumar, right, with LG Brian Calley|
Kumar's campaign website bio describes him as:
"Vijay Kumar was born and raised in India. His parents worked as educators and, from an early age, instilled an understanding that nothing in life should be given to you - everything must be earned through hard work.He left India in the early stages of his life and went to the United States with just a few dollars in his pocket. He attended Boston University where he earned his Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and a PhD, and continued his education to Xavier University School of Medicine (MD) and George Washington University, where he is currently completing a Masters in Public Health. Vijay worked full time while attending class and paid his way through school.Upon receiving his degree, Vijay and his wife sought somewhere to live.
Coming from the most populated city in the world, they were ready to settle down to a much calmer lifestyle. While visiting friends that lived in Northern Michigan, they decided that West Branch was the place they wanted to call home and raise their family. They fell in love with the small-town atmosphere, hard working people, and tight-knit community values.
Vijay founded and operates Community Rehabilitation Services, a number of advanced physical therapy clinics located throughout Northern Michigan. His five offices are in St. Helen, Rose City, Hale (Agility Physical Therapy), West Branch and Prescott (Adapt Physical Therapy). Vijay's practices employ nearly 100 Northern Michigan residents and he operates a program to hire military veterans at his offices.Vijay is committed to giving back to his community. He is a sponsor and supporter of youth sports across the area, is an active member of the American Red Cross serving Northern Michigan, the Rose City Lions Club, and West Branch Optimist Club, is a Life Member of the Ogemaw County Genealogical and Historical Society, and volunteers much of his free time with a number of organizations that work in Northern Michigan.
He also holds a number of appointed and elected offices, like:· Chairman of the State Board of Physical Therapy· Treasurer of the Rose City / Lupton Chamber of Commerce· Member of the Ogemaw County Zoning Board of Appeals. Vijay is an active member of the Michigan Republican Party, serves as the Treasurer of the Ogemaw County Republican Party, a precinct delegate in West Branch, serving on the Executive Committee for the 4th Congressional District, and has been involved in campaigns at all levels."
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
>>>Email him at WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com
|Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson|