By Daniel Ducassi, FloridaBulldog.org
The founder and head of a health-coaching company that inked an $11.3-million deal with the state of Florida to provide COVID-19 testing and supplies pleaded guilty to two felonies last year related to insurance-fraud schemes.
Brandt Beal is CEO of Indur Services, a Texas-based firm that offers customers advice, planning and nutrition supplements. Beal was sentenced to 10 years of probation in each case.
The state’s contract with Indur no longer includes laboratory testing. Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz explained in a Florida Bulldog interview that the value of the contract was reduced to $2.2 million after it was amended to only provide the “swabs and vials.”
“To date, everything that’s been ordered they’ve delivered on,” Moskowitz said.
Moskowitz, a former Democratic state representative from Coral Springs, noted that Florida has been putting out contracts regarding its COVID-19 needs “really fast.”
“I have 300 vendors,” he said. “If we are not aware of one with a criminal history, we will deal with it.”
‘No time’ for vetting
Division of Emergency Management spokesman Jason Mahon explained further, “Time is of the essence when securing these critical testing supplies for Floridians, and that limited time does not allow for the Division to vet every company’s executive leadership or board of directors.”
Mahon said that Indur’s contract was amended on May 4 “because Indur Services did not provide testing directly, but rather was providing testing services through another company,” and that the state decided to contract directly with the actual lab company.
Florida Bulldog asked the governor’s office repeatedly to make public a copy of the Indur contract, but no response was forthcoming. Moskowitz said Wednesday that he would make the contract and any amendments available on Thursday, but again, that did not happen.
Before the changes, the no-bid contract was among the largest, if not the largest, COVID-19 testing contracts the state has given out.
Brandt Beal pleaded guilty in Texas in July 2019 to misapplication of fiduciary property. Six months earlier, he pleaded guilty to felony theft in a separate Texas case. In addition to being sentenced to 10 years of probation in each case, Beal was ordered to pay restitution totaling more than $250,000. Adjudication was deferred.
In 2017, Beal also pleaded guilty to felony theft related to yet another Texas insurance-fraud scheme and was put on probation for nine years. Adjudication was deferred in that case, too.
A Texas ‘con artist’
Texas Department of Insurance spokesman Ben Gonzalez told Florida Bulldog that Beal, a former insurance broker, pocketed premium payments made by clients instead of sending the money on to insurance companies. Gonzalez said state agents described Beal as a “con artist.”
In an interview, Beal sought to distance himself from his felony pleas. He said the man who pleaded guilty to those charges is actually his cousin with the same name.
“That is not me,” he said. “That is him.”
Beal, however, would not provide requested contact information for his cousin. And court documents, business records, social media accounts, a Lexis-Nexis dossier and photographs all show that the man who runs the company that won Florida’s multimillion dollar contract is the same man who pleaded guilty to those three felony schemes.
In an emailed statement this week, an unidentified person at Indur’s public relations department said founder and CEO Beal has no ownership stake in the company.
Florida’s contract database showed that on April 22 the Executive Office of the Governor entered into a contract with Indur Services to provide 140,000 “COVID-19 RT-qPCR tests [laboratory tests]” with a “24-hour turnaround upon receipt of sample in the laboratory,” along with testing supplies. The state agreed to pay the firm $10.2 million for the testing, with the balance going to supplies.
That same day, Gov. Ron DeSantis boasted in a press conference that, “we have two contracts in place with two new labs that will increase our lab capacity by 18,000 samples per day,” adding that the state had been told of “perhaps a 24-hour turnaround” for COVID-19 testing.
The contract was issued under authority of the governor’s emergency executive order. It is one of dozens of emergency agreements the state has made in recent weeks without any formal bidding process.
Medical services are generally exempt from Florida’s competitive solicitation requirements, while large purchases of medical equipment are typically subject to competitive bidding requirements. The governor’s executive order allows state agencies to suspend normal purchasing regulations.
Still, it’s unclear why Indur would have been awarded a lab-testing contract in the first place. Its website provides no indication that it is able to do such important work.
Indur’s website offers to arrange health tests for its customers by “leading national laboratories.” The results can be viewed via an online portal, where customers can receive “guidance from holistic naturopaths and nutritionists” and purchase recommended supplements. A disclaimer notes that “statements on this site have not been evaluated by the FDA,” and that “these products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”
Gov. DeSantis’s office did not explain how it is vetting prospective vendors seeking emergency state contracts.
Florida has a convicted vendor list that largely excludes those convicted of “public entity crimes” in business transactions with federal or state agencies from doing business with the state for 36 months. But Beal’s crimes don’t fall into that category.
The missing background check
Had a background check been made, Florida officials could easily have discovered Beal’s criminal past. A Google search for his name quickly yields a story in Texas’ Wichita Falls Times-Record-News about Beal ripping off a local dairy transporter, Lone Star Milk Transport. Beal pleaded guilty in that insurance scam case last July.
Beal’s other Texas guilty plea last year, to felony theft, was for stealing from Decatur-based Sandford Oil Company. Wise County Assistant District Attorney Jay Lapham said in an interview that Sandford Oil Company paid Beal’s insurance firm an estimated premium for workers compensation insurance with AIG.
“The long and short of it was, that premium was not paid,” Lapham said. “According to AIG, they never received any portion of the premium.”
Sandford Oil filed a civil lawsuit against Beal in Dallas, alleging he stole more than $280,000 from a $1.5-million insurance premium that was supposed to go to AIG. A judge ruled against Beal in December 2017, ordering him to pay more than $480,000, plus interest.
Prosecutor Lapham described Beal as “kinda flashy” – a guy who stuck out in rural Wise County, TX. He was surprised to hear that Beal had a big business deal in Florida.
“I don’t know that I would let him handle any money,” he said.