Three people knew that two neo-Nazis were hosts of a Medicaid-funded host home dating back at least as far as 2019. As of today, nothing has changed.
The story starts with a couple of neo-Nazis named Vincent and Briana Bertinelli, who are actively engaged with the so-called “Goyim Defense League.” Vincent, in particular, has a long resume of absolutely disgusting behavior, including driving around in a van dressed as an Orthodox Jew while screaming at people that Jews were responsible for 9/11.
He was also identified hanging a banner on an overpass that read “New World Order is a Jew World Order.” And he’s been passing out fliers blaming Jews for “every part of the COVID Agenda” in different neighborhoods across the front range over recent months.
At least three staff members at All Friends, Inc knew that the Bertinellis were neo-Nazis. All Friends is a social services organization that places people with disabilities — such as down syndrome, for example — with “host home” providers. In this story, the host-home providers are the Bertinellis. And the staff at All Friends includes the two co-founders (according to their website), Charlene Thoma and Michelle Raymond.
I spoke with both of them on the phone in regard to my previous column to this one, ‘Goyim Defense League’ Drops More Anti-Semitic Flyers in Parker. Both calls were short — in the first one, Raymond verified to me that the Bertinellis are in fact employed as a host-home provider by All Friends. And both Raymond and Thoma flatly denied having any knowledge of the Bertinellis’ activities with the Goyim Defense League.
That was a lie.
As it turns out, multiple people reported the activities of the Bertinellis to staff at All Friends — dating back to at least 2019. Here’s just one example of a comment on an All Friends’ Facebook post from 2021:
The Colorado Times Recorder has other communications dating back to 2019 between All Friends, Inc. staff members and private individuals as well. We are not releasing these in order to protect people who have requested to remain anonymous.
And there’s a third staff member who has long known about the Bertinellis’ involvement with the Goyim Defense League. Her name is Alison Coombs.
Coombs, in addition to her role as the Residential Program Manager at All Friends, Inc., is also the representative for Ward V on the Aurora City Council. In fact, she’s actually on the Racial Equity Subcommittee for the Arapahoe County Justice Coordinating Committee.
Let’s stop here for a second and recap: The issue at hand here is that open neo-Nazis are being paid by the State of Colorado — under the management of All Friends, Inc. — to care for a person with disabilities. And yes, Vincent Bertinelli himself claims to be a Nazi:
Most people are aware of the hatred Nazis hold for Jews. But that wasn’t the only group of people the Nazis wanted erased from the planet. LGBTQ people were another. The Roma people were another.
And people with disabilities were another as well.
The T-4 program — as Nazis called it during the Holocaust — was responsible for the murder of approximately 200,000 people with disabilities, many of them infants and children. These were people deemed “unworthy of life” by the Third Reich, and they were killed by lethal injection, gas chambers, and even starvation.
This is the philosophy Bertinelli so readily embraces.
And it’s a philosophy the staff at All Friends has known Bertinelli embraces for much longer than just the last two weeks since I called them, despite their claims to the contrary on our call.
I know this because I spoke directly with Councilwoman Coombs last week on the phone, where I asked her point blank, “Have you been previously made aware of the fact that Vincent and Briana Bertinelli have a relationship with the Goyim Defense League or have ever been engaged in any of these neo-Nazi or anti-Semitic activities?”
“I mean, yeah,” she said after a brief pause. “They’re pretty openly publicized on the Colorado Springs Antifa Twitter, so yes, I’ve seen (it) and I’ve had other people bring this to my attention.”
She added, “It’s despicable that people would say and do the things that have been reported that (the Bertinellis) have been reported saying and doing.”
It’s clear to me that it would be absolutely incumbent upon Coombs to inform her bosses about this when it became known to her, considering her role as All Friends’ Residential Program Manager. Coombs refused to comment as to whether or not she did. However, Colorado Times Recorder has proof that indeed did occur.
“The authority charged with oversight for (All Friends, Inc.) has all the information they need to investigate and I’m not going to litigate this in the press,” she said. “If you have proof, you have proof, but I’m not going to comment on that.”
It’s fair to give Coombs a little latitude here inasmuch as I believe she did her job with regard to sharing this information internally with her senior leadership when it became public — as far back as 2019, when this information was publicized by the Colorado Springs Antifa blog. The question remains, though, what was done since? Was it simple a checking of a box — as if to say, “well, I did my job, so I guess that’s that?” As John Stuart Mill said, “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”
Indeed, it certainly seems that just “saying and doing” despicable things isn’t enough for All Friends management to act. “In general we try not to terminate relationships with providers in any situation where we think that the individual will end up going to another agency and likely remaining in the same situation,” Coombs said. Considering All Friends’ sole revenue stream appears to be the management of these host-homes, it’s not that surprising that there’s little interest in terminating any relationship with any host-home provider.
It’s certainly possible that the Bertinellis take great care of whoever is placed in their home. But the greater issue is that the co-founders at All Friends tried to engage in an egregiously sloppy cover-up by outright lying when they were confronted about the fact that open neo-Nazis are in their employ, caring for disabled people.
I followed up with them via email after my discussion with Councilwoman Coombs and gave them the chance to revisit the statements they made over the phone. I asked them why they misrepresented themselves on our first calls on Feb. 21 by claiming to have no knowledge or be aware of any “evidence” as to the Bertinellis’ involvement with these organizations. I asked them if they had documented any of the Bertinellis’ activities in their files.
And most importantly, I asked them: “It’s well documented that the Nazis murdered thousands of people with disabilities throughout the course of the Holocaust. The Bertinellis are on record supporting Nazi platforms and philosophies. Can you explain why you would think people with disabilities who are placed in their home are truly “safe and secure, that their needs are met, that their strengths are applauded and differences respected?”
That last sentence is a direct quote from the All Friends website.
In the State of Colorado, All Friends, Inc. is certified as a Program Approved Service Agency (PASA) This is an agency that has been “approved to provide direct community-based services to individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities approved for Medicaid waiver services.” All Friends falls under the jurisdiction of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
However, the funding for this program is overseen by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, which manages the Medicaid funds that are provided by the federal government as well as those collected by the state. The 2021-2022 state budget provides a total of $13.2 billion to Health Care Policy and Financing, which mostly covers Medicaid premiums — $2.6 billion of which come from the state’s general fund.
Thankfully, the State of Colorado has measures in place to deal with something like this once it’s been brought to their attention.
“The Health Facility and Emergency Medical Services Division (HFEMSD) of CDPHE investigates program approved service agencies (PASAs) and host homes on behalf of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF),” said Peter Myers, Residential Care Strike Team Branch Chief and Public Information Officer for HFEMS. “The investigation findings related to areas of non-compliance determine the future corrective action process. If consumers are found to be in immediate jeopardy, HFEMSD investigators will not end the inspection until that immediate jeopardy is resolved before proceeding to the corrective action process.” He added, “Through these investigations, we are committed to ensuring higher-risk consumers are protected and are living in settings that support them.”
Considering the Bertinellis’ employment with All Friends, Inc. the idea that the person they’re charged with caring for is living in a “setting that supports them” is certainly one worth investigating. And all of this raises another question for me as well: how much of what they were paid out of the budget set aside by the State of Colorado underwrote activities like picketing Pride events for the LGTBQ community or spreading around virulently anti-Semitic material?
Even if just a single dollar, it’s one dollar too much.