A school district spokesman, Ryan Hightower, said there have been complaints about the program but would not elaborate except to say, "Whenever something is brought up, we deal with it."
As business boomed at the Pomona clinic, Mary Brantley couldn't keep up.
Brantley started as a counselor at Ejindu's Riverside clinic. After it closed, she moved on to the Pomona clinic. She said under Ejindu's watch, she was expected to produce paperwork and signatures for rehab counseling that never took place.
"When he had the schools in on it, I left because I couldn't do that much forging," Brantley said.
Ejindu's strategies for handling regulators became clear after Shearer took her story to county authorities in September.
As an auditor investigated Shearer's accusations of fraud, Ejindu offered the investigator a job, according to a county email. The auditor turned him down.
The 2012 investigation determined that the Pomona clinic had billed for 230 counseling sessions at times when the counselors were off work or at lunch. The inspector discovered that Ejindu himself had filled out, signed and dated patient records for a future date.
Six treatment plans and medical waivers lacked the required doctor's signature when the auditor first examined them. Weeks later, physician signatures appeared on the same documents, along with dates indicating they had been signed before the audit, according to the investigation report.
The tricks used to fudge paperwork had become so prevalent in the Drug Medi-Cal program that John Viernes Jr., Los Angeles County's Substance Abuse Prevention and Control director, warned all rehab providers in a 2010 memo that the practices were fraudulent and "will result in immediate contract termination." Viernes also warned that any offer of a bribe to a county staffer would be grounds for termination.
Over and over again, however, that threat fizzled.
Ejindu fought back. He filed a complaint against the county auditor, citing "illegal pilfering of documents." The allegations against his clinic, Ejindu wrote, came from disgruntled ex-employees who had been fired for not meeting standards.
"This agency has been around for 15 years for a very good reason," he wrote. "We are a pillar in our community and well respected."
Ejindu met with Viernes, who asked another county division to investigate the complaint of auditor misconduct. The inquiry determined that the auditor didn't have permission to take papers off the desks of clinic staff, Viernes said. As a result, he said, the findings of serious violations were "set aside."
Meanwhile, the Pomona clinic continued to rake in cash as part of its $800,000 annual contract. Vans still dropped off teenagers for rehab, and Shearer has grown cynical about the value of blowing the whistle.
"The funny thing is that it has been reported, many times, and nothing has ever been done," she said. "He's always found a way to circumvent that."
Looking back, Victoria Byers is upset, too. It bothers her that somewhere in official patient records, someone labeled her with an addiction she didn't have.
"Maybe if I wanted to get a job and that comes up, maybe I can't get that job because of drugs," she said. "I didn't do drugs, and that's kind of messed up."
At Pride Health Services, addictions weren't the only things that Stephanie Jackson Parnell made up.
The former employee said the clinic operator, Godfrey Nwogene, would ask her to bill Drug Medi-Cal for clients she'd never seen.
"I just had to come up with stories," she said. "Using your imagination. Like as if it's someone standing right there."
Pride staffers would go through files of old clients to check whether their Medi-Cal numbers remained active, Parnell said. Each active number would become a Pride client again.
Parnell, who left and filed a whistle-blower complaint with the state in 2009, said she invented life stories for her fake clients. She still can rattle off vignettes of rehab fiction: "Client stated that she went to a party and relapsed. ... Client is saying she doesn't want to go out with those same friends."
Or sometimes, Parnell just copied and pasted notes from one file to another.