Shell Game: Steven Chase Brigham Seeks to Avoid Paying Judgment in Mishandled Chemical Abortion Case

By Cheryl Sullenger

Baltimore, MD – What was thought to be a closed federal lawsuit against discredited abortionist Steven Chase Brigham is open and active, according to court records recently obtained by Operation Rescue.

The documents revealed more information about Brigham’s nefarious business dealings, which have kept him active in the business of abortion despite having six medical licenses revoked or surrendered.  These documents have been the key that unlocked the mystery of how Brigham has avoided real accountability for his dangerous and shoddy abortion practices for over four decades.

O’Connell Case

It started in 2012, when Christy O’Connell received drugs to induce an abortion at Associates in OB/GYN Care, also known as “Frederick Primary Care,” a now-closed abortion facility in Frederick, Maryland.

That clinic was one of four Maryland facilities that were affiliated with Brigham and his notorious New Jersey-based abortion chain, American Women’s Services (AWS).

Once at the abortion facility, O’Connell was given false information on a consent form that stated the abortion pill, Mifepristone, was not available in the U.S.

Instead, her abortionist, Iris Dominy, followed Brigham’s corners-cutting protocols by using a cheap, outdated chemotherapy drug, Methotrextate, which has a 30-40% failure rate when used for abortions at seven weeks of pregnancy or earlier.  The gestational age of O’Connell’s baby was underestimated by Dominy to be less than eight weeks.  In actuality, her baby was considerably older.  Methotrexate is not recommended for use in abortions after seven weeks.

As might have been predicted, O’Connell’s abortion went terribly wrong.  The drugs did not work, and O’Connell gave birth prematurely to a baby boy, who was born severely disabled and continues to suffer from health issues to this day.

Brigham-linked abortion clinics are among a handful of abortion businesses nationwide that will still use Methotrexate to induce abortions.  In fact, the use of Methotrexate is a distinguishing hallmark of Brigham-run clinics despite the complex efforts to conceal his ownership.

Federal Civil Suit

In April 2014, O’Connell sued Associates in OB/GYN Care, abortionist Iris Dominy, and clinic owner/operator Steven Chase Brigham.

O’Connell also sued two other Brigham associates: Vikram Kaji, an elderly abortionist who then served as Medical Director for American Women’s Services abortion chain, and the aging Mansour Panah, who then served as Medical Director for the four now-shuttered Maryland facilities.

Brigham once controlled well over a dozen abortion facilities in six states under the trade name American’s Women’s Services. Today, American Women’s Services serves as the central scheduling hub for at least nine abortion facilities: Six in New Jersey, and one each in Florida, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

He has earned notoriety as one of the worst abortionists in the U.S.  He has been involved in a decades-long pattern of nefarious conduct related to his deceptive abortion businesses and practices dating back to the 1980’s.

Brigham has literally been run out of business in several states:

  • When Brigham’s New Jersey medical license was revoked in 2014, he was ordered to divest from all abortion facilities in that state – an order with which Operation Rescue believes he has never fully complied
  • In July 2010, Brigham was banned by the State of Pennsylvania from operating or controlling any abortion clinics in that state, citing violations that endangered the public. Nevertheless, Brigham used various business entities to defy that order and open a Philadelphia abortion facility.  It was soon shuttered when the truth came out.
  • Brigham’s only abortion facility in Delaware was evicted due to failure to pay $37,000 in rent.
  • In November 2019, Brigham shut down his three remaining Maryland chemical abortion facilities under mysterious circumstances.

Brigham also ran an illegal bi-state abortion scheme that he used to avoid compliance with New Jersey’s abortion limit of 14 weeks gestation for unlicensed abortion facilities like the ones he operated.  That scheme led to his arrest on murder charges related to the abortion deaths of 35 viable late-term babies at a clandestine abortion facility in Elkton, Maryland, where Brigham was never licensed.

Although the murder charges were later dropped, the illegal scheme resulted in New Jersey revoking the last medical license he held.

Maria Santiago

Dominy immediately answered O’Connell’s  suit and soon settled out of court for an unknown payout, perhaps because she had other legal issues that needed her attention. 

In February 13, 2013, Dominy conducted a surgical abortion on another patient, Maria Santiago, who was 12.5 weeks pregnant.  Santiago was sedated and “slept” through the abortion procedure.  At some point, she stopped breathing and never woke up.  A crash cart in the hallway was never used because the defibrillator was broken.

When she was served with the O’Connell suit, Dominy was still dealing with the fallout from Santiago’s death.

$6.5 Million Judgment

However, Brigham, Kaji, and Panah never bothered to respond to O’Connell’s suit.  That resulted in a Federal judge issuing a default judgment of $6.5 million against the three on August 5, 2016.

That was thought to have been the end of the case.

However, the size of the judgment finally caught Brigham’s attention.  His attorneys were able to get the judgment vacated on a technicality, after successfully arguing that Brigham was improperly served with notice of the suit. 

Today the case remains open.  Of the original four defendants, only Steven Brigham remains involved. 

Kaji served as Medical Director for the New Jersey facilities only.  Because he was never actually involved in the Maryland businesses, he was dropped from the case.  His medical license was revoked on January 29, 2019, due to mental impairment and his participation in a sham business transfer of AWS clinics once Brigham became ineligible to own them.  He passed away on April 27, 2020, due to COVID-19.

Mansour Panah served as Medical Director for the four Maryland abortion facilities, but he passed away sometime in 2015 or 2016, before any resolution could be reached, according to information in Brigham’s deposition taken in the O’Connell case.

Master of Deception

Since the 2016 judgment, Brigham has been fighting the lawsuit like a junk yard dog.  Four years later, the case is still in the process of settlement negotiations.

Operation Rescue has obtained copies of Steven Brigham’s deposition transcript, dated October 31, 2017, which sheds light on the tactics he uses to stay in business and outside the reach of regulators who have tried and failed to shut him down. 

Also obtained were transcripts of depositions taken from Iris Dominy and Melissa Hope Shachnovitz, who worked for Brigham as an administrator at his Maryland facilities starting in 2012.  These add further clarity to Brigham’s nefarious business model.

“Brigham’s deposition is a master class on the use of deception, evasion, and distraction,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue.  “But even so, it was very revealing of the means he uses to conceal his ownership interests and control of the American Women’s Services abortion empire.”

The Key

For years, Operation Rescue has tracked Brigham and his notorious abortion chain, American Women’s Services.  Now, thanks to new documents and hours of research, new pieces of the puzzle have finally been unlocked.

Because Brigham has been barred from practicing medicine or operating abortion clinics in so many states, and because he has no hope of obtaining another medical license anywhere in the U.S., he is employing a tactic that could put legal distance between him and the American Women’s Services abortion facilities.

That tactic involves an elaborate maze of companies registered in multiple states with a dizzying array of trade names or DBAs, and an ever-changing cast of registered agents, managers, and accomplices.

The full scope of Brigham’s tremendously complex shell game has never actually been realized. 

When a regulator turns over one of his companies, he finds it has undergone a name change, or has been transferred to others, or was reregistered in another state, or was completely abandoned with its registration forfeited. 

Without careful investigation, the paperwork may appear to be legitimate, but in reality, it is like any shell game.  His companies are really a series of “cups” under which the marble of ownership continually shifts and sometimes seems to disappear altogether.

This is the key that unlocks the mystery of how Brigham can continue to profit from abortion.

For Brigham, the game is about control and profit – not legal ownership.  He artfully uses his vast network of shell companies and associates to conceal his ownership and control of the businesses, while making it appear that he has completely divested from the business of abortion. 

Deception is one tool Brigham uses to keep the abortion money flowing.  Another is his associates, which he uses without conscience to stay one step ahead of criminal, civil, and regulatory prosecution.

The worst thing any regulator or prosecutor can do is underestimate him.  The second worst thing would be to believe him.

38 Businesses (and counting)

As far as is known, Brigham has been linked to at least 38 different business entities, but there are probably more that have not yet been traced to him. (See chart below.)

The businesses use words that evoke trust, like American, family, fidelity, integrity, goodness, grace, mercy, professional, and wellness.  But those terms are like putting lipstick on a pig.

Known Businesses With Links to Steven C. Brigham-Final by Cheryl Sullenger on Scribd

The Maryland abortion clinics are a good example of how his mind-muddling shell game works.

Associates in OB/GYN Care, LLC, a named defendant in the O’Connell lawsuit, was the business name of Brigham’s original four licensed Maryland abortion facilities in Silver Spring, Frederick, Baltimore, and Cheverly.  Brigham’s name never appeared on the Articles of Incorporation for that Maryland-registered company.  Instead, he used a representative from a company that helped him create the limited liability company, whose business address was listed as the same address as Brigham’s former flagship abortion facility at 1 Alpha Avenue in Voorhees, New Jersey.

Only the clinic in Silver Spring had any signage that identified it as Associates in OB/GYN Care.

The clinics also went under the unregistered trade name American Women’s Services (AWS).  

A third name associated with the Maryland clinics was a Pennsylvania business called American Medical Associates, whose sole owner was Steven Chase Brigham.

In 2010, American Medical Associates was changed to American Medical Services and registered in New Jersey.  The agent for that business was listed as “Win Mar Tun,” which is likely an alias.  American Medical Services also used the alternate name American Medi-Mart.

American Medical Associates and American Medical Services were used by Brigham to supposedly provide abortionists to facilities associated with American Women’s Services, including those in Maryland.  This kept him a step away from any ownership of the clinics – on paper, anyway, if not in practice.

For example, using this tactic, if one of the abortion clinics failed an inspection, which was the case with all the Maryland facilities, he bore no legal responsibility.  If a clinic was fined, he bore no liability for paying it.

O’Connell’s complaint threw yet another business into the mix, asserting that Brigham, Kaji, and Dominy were “agents, servants, employees and/or apparent agents” of Rose Health “acting within the scope of their employment and/or agency.”

While documentation on “Rose Health” is sketchy, it is believed that company was once placed in the name of Judith Fitch of Toledo, Ohio.  Fitch was actually Brigham’s mother, who passed away in 2014.  But for a while, he used her as a shield on business records so he could continue his operations outside the spotlight and without the liability.

Agents & Associates

Brigham also uses a confounding mix of agents and business associates to insulate him from legal liability or ownership concerns.  He has been known to seek out the elderly or other vulnerable people who could be used as patsies, while he continued to operate his clinic chain behind the scenes.  The people he chose were those who would be unlikely to rat on him because of their financial dependency, mental health issues, and/or diminished mental capacity.

Such was the case when Brigham’s New Jersey medical license was revoked in 2014.  He surreptitiously transferred “ownership” of his New Jersey clinics to his AWS medical director, octogenarian Vikram Kaji, who had suffered a stroke and was mentally impaired. 

At first, Kaji was apparently unaware of his new ownership of Brigham’s abortion empire.

In 2015, when Kaji was questioned by state officials about his ownership in the American Women Services clinics, Kaji seemed confused and answered that Brigham was “the only one who runs the show.”

This statement essentially defines Brigham’s continued involvement with all abortion facilities associated with American Women’s Services.

Once that transfer sham was revealed, Kaji’s medical license was revoked.  Kaji then “sold” Brigham’s New Jersey businesses to long-time Brigham associate and abortionist Richard Blum for the grand total of one dollar.  

Brigham has been openly working as a business administrator for the AWS clinics through Fidelity Venture Services (FVS). This company was started by Brigham, who transferred ownership to his long-time accountant, Nancy Luke. Luke later supposedly sold FVS to Vikram Kaji.  This was done to make it look Brigham was Kaji’s employee at FVS, which hired him to manage the business end of his AWS clinics once Brigham was disqualified from ownership. 

When Kaji later sold the AWS clinics (operating under the name American Health Care Services, P.C.) to Blum, he also submitted a letter from Fidelity Venture Services that terminated its management agreement with American Health Care Services under which Brigham was “employed.”

On paper, this made it look like of AWS’ ties to Brigham had finally been severed, and the New Jersey Attorney General’s office bought the ruse hook, line, and sinker.

“Brigham makes his paperwork seem legit and then continues on behind the scenes, in control if not in possession,” said Newman.  “It is frustrating to see so many people fall for this charade.”

Kimberly Marion Walker

During discovery in the O’Connell case, Brigham laid the responsibility  for the Maryland facilities directly at the doorstep of Kimberly Marion Walker

In Brigham’s Motion for Summary Judgment dated March 15, 2018, his attorneys made the argument that Walker owned Associates in OB/GYN Care and served as an administrator, while the elderly Mansour Panah held the position of medical director for the clinics.

The sworn deposition of Melissa Hope Sachnovitz, one of the Maryland clinics’ administrators, backed up the claim that Walker was the owner of Associates in OB/GYN Care.

Walker and Panah had both passed away long before that 2018 motion was filed, so it was easy for Brigham to blame them for the injuries to O’Connell’s child, the death of Maria Santiago, and other violations.

However, Operation Rescue has been unable to find any documentation of Walker’s alleged ownership of Associates in OB/GYN Care.  In fact, at the time she held no active medical license, even though Sachnovitz swore under oath that Walker conducted medical tasks at the abortion facilities.

“Brigham has no conscience whatsoever about exploiting the vulnerable for his personal gain.  He did it with Vikram Kaji, who was mentally diminished, he did it to Kimberly Walker, and he has done it to others,” said Newman.  “He will continue to exploit his web of shell businesses and phalanx of lawyers, agents, and associates to deprive Christy O’Connell’s disabled child of the money his family needs in order to get him the medical care he requires.”

Walker was a doctor that suffered from mental illness.  She lost her Maryland medical license in 2006, when she walked into a hospital and opened fire with a handgun on a security guard.  Thankfully, the gun repeatedly misfired and no one was hurt, but Walker was arrested for attempted murder. 

Walker received three mental health evaluations and was diagnosed with Bipolar, Type II with Psychotic Features; Schizoaffective, Bipolar Type; and Schizoaffective, Bipolar Type with a differential diagnosis of Schizophrenia, Paranoid Type.  At her trial, she was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was admitted into a mental health facility.

By the time she met Brigham in 2009, her condition had stabilized and she had begun the process of applying for reinstatement of her medical license.  In January 2010, without waiting for her license to be approved, Brigham brought Walker in to “observe” abortions at his secret late-term abortion facility in Elkton, Maryland, as part of her supposed training.

Even though Walker insisted that she never did more than watch abortion procedures in Elkton, a patient log from the Elkton facility listed her misspelled name as the attending physician.  Attributing the abortions to Walker hid the truth that Brigham, who was never licensed in Maryland, was actually the one illegally conducting the late-term abortions.  That clinic was permanently closed when a seriously mishandled botched abortion led to the investigation that ultimately cost Brigham his New Jersey medical license.

It was around this time that Walker was seen at the Associates in OB/GYN Care facilities.  She still had not yet been issued a medical license when Christy O’Connell had her fateful abortion appointment in 2012 or when Maria Santiago died on February 13, 2013.

Walker committed suicide on January 13, 2014. [Read her full story and supporting documents.]

During his deposition in the O’Connell case, Brigham acted like he could not even remember Walker’s name.  The answers below in the transcript excerpts are responses to questioning by O’Connell’s attorneys.

Q. So when American Medical Associates, through you, its president and sole owner, entered into a contract with Associates in OB/GYN Care to provide physicians to its Maryland abortion clinics, who did you enter into that contract with?

A. Who did American Medical Associates enter the contract with?

Q. Yes.

A. Associates in OB/GYN Care.

Q. What individual person did you enter into that contract with? I understand it was a contract between two corporations.

A. Right.

Q. But you were the sole owner of American Medical Associates, and I presume you had to enter into negotiations and discussions with another human being on behalf of Associates in OB/GYN Care. I want to know who’s that human being or beings.

A. To the best of my memory, it was Dr. Walker.

Q. Okay. You do not remember her first name?

A. I don’t remember her first name.

Q. What time period are we talking about that this association began between your company and Associates in OB/GYN Care?

A. In the 2000s. I don’t remember exactly which —

Q. Okay.

A. — year.

Q. Did there ever come a point in time in your relationship — in American Medical Associates’ relationship with Associates in OB/GYN Care when Dr. Walker was not your primary contact or person that you dealt with on behalf of Associates in OB/GYN Care?

A. I don’t — it all fizzled out, so I don’t know —

Q. When did —

A. — I mean —

Q. Go ahead, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt you.

A. So I don’t know how to answer that because of the whole thing just kind of [fizzled].

***

Q. Did Dr. Walker continue to be affiliated with Associates in OB/GYN Care up until the time that it became defunct, as you understand it?

A. To the best of my memory, she did.

Q. Do you know what Dr. Walker’s doing now?

A. I think she passed away.

Q. When?

A. I don’t remember what year.

Q. Did you go to her funeral?

A. I did.

Q. Where was it?

A. Where?

Q. Um-hum.

A. It was in Maryland.

Q. Do you know where in Maryland?

A. I couldn’t tell you offhand.

Q. How old was Dr. Walker?

A. Young.

Q. Do you know what she passed away from?

A. I don’t have firsthand knowledge.

Q. Okay. So this is a woman you had a business relationship with for several years, at least, and attended her funeral, and you don’t remember her first name?

A. She had a nickname, which was, I think, Kimmy.

Q. Okay.

A. But what her official legal name is, I don’t know. I don’t want to — I’m under oath, I don’t want — I don’t want — I want to be careful and not say the wrong thing.

Q. Do you know where she lived, when she was living?

A. I’ve never been to her house. I don’t know.

Q. Did she live in Maryland?

A. I think so, yes.

Q. Do you know what city?

A. No.

Q. Do you know her husband, if she was married?

A. No.

Q. Do you know where she trained?

A. No — I take that back. I know she did in Philly, I think she did at Drexel maybe. I’m not sure.

Brigham’s evasion and lies are clear in this excerpt.  Brigham attributed ownership of his Maryland abortion clinics to Kimberly Walker because she was not around to contradict him or defend herself.  His motive was selfish: If he did not own Associates in OB/GYN Care, he could not be liable for the injuries to Christy O’Connell’s son.

Associates in OB/GYN Care became defunct on October 3, 2014, when the company’s registration was forfeited, putting it out of reach of any civil judgment.

However, the four abortion facilities that operated under the Associates in OB/GYN Care banner were temporarily shut down in 2013, after violations caused the Maryland Board of Physicians to revoke the clinics’ abortion facility licenses.

Later, in 2015, after the company’s registration was forfeited, Brigham quietly reopened all but the Frederick facility. This time, the clinics offered abortions only via the methotrexate/misoprostol combination of abortion-inducing drugs – the same drug combination that caused birth defects in Christy O’Connell’s son.

Today, all four of Brigham’s Maryland abortion facilities remain closed.

Still in Control

It seemed evident that Brigham continued to secretly control and profit from the American Women’s Services abortion chain, yet without the recent court records or further information, it was difficult to prove. 

A break came in May when Florida pro-life activist Dr. Tom Messe tipped off Operation Rescue to the presence of Brigham at the AWS affiliate American Family Planning abortion facility in Pensacola.  Dr. Messe reported that he had seen Brigham in the parking lot of the abortion facility talking on the phone, but when Brigham noticed Messe, he ran inside the facility.  The next day, a heavily disguised Brigham showed up with a security guard who hurried him into the clinic.

At the same time, an anonymous tip revealed that Brigham was not alone during his visit, but had brought his wife and members of the New Jersey AWS staff, who stayed for several days then returned to New Jersey.

Brigham seemed very interested in keeping his visit to American Family Planning in Pensacola a secret.  That’s because that visit revealed his continued involvement in the AWS chain.

In addition, Operation Rescue received another tip that the O’Connell case was still open.  That resulted in hours of research that finally revealed the truth of Brigham’s continued control of AWS through his maze of companies.

“If Brigham is involved with one of the American Women’s Services abortion clinics, it is reasonable to believe he is still involved with all of them.  Brigham runs the show. He always has and always will, unless there is intervention from some regulator or prosecutor who will take the time to untangle Brigham’s fraudulent spider web of shell companies – and stop taking him at his word,” said Newman.

Settlement Negotiations

Meanwhile, as of this writing, Brigham continues to engage in settlement negotiations with Christy O’Connell in an attempt to avoid having the judge in the case reinstate the $6.5 million judgment against him.

Even if Brigham were to agree to settle the case and pay a monetary settlement, then begins the ordeal of trying to collect from one of America’s biggest flim-flam men.

“I’d love to see this case go to trial so the full truth can come out,” said Newman.

Will there be Justice?

Operation Rescue is also in the process of filing a formal complaint against Brigham with the Department of Justice for his interstate scheme, which is believed to rise to the level of a fraudulent, criminal enterprise.

“Brigham has literally gotten away with murder,” said Newman.  “We are like a dog on a bone when it comes to this charlatan.  We won’t stop until Brigham is behind bars where he belongs.”