After a New York City surgeon was found dead at his Park Avenue apartment in late 2017, some media drew a connection between his apparent suicide and a lawsuit brought against him by a former New York Giants running back.
Police investigated the death of Dean Lorich as a suicide, news reports from the ABC News and the New York Daily News stated at the time. The medical examiner determined that Lorich’s death was a suicide, a fact that the New York Police Department confirmed for us again on Friday.
But another website, Intellihub, published a Dec. 12, 2017 story suggesting something more nefarious—that Lorich was murdered after exposing corruption involving the Clinton Foundation in Haiti.
This story was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) It appears to be making the social media rounds nearly a year after publication, with CrowdTangle data showing it has been shared on Facebook nearly 80,000 times, generating almost 373,000 social media interactions.
"A well-known surgeon who exposed major inadequacies in medical trauma care promised to the Haitian people by the Clinton Foundation after the nonprofit raised over $30 million dollars in donations following the devastating 2010 earthquake was found dead in his upscale apartment Sunday with a stab wound to the chest," begins the Intellihub.com story written by Shepard Ambellas and labeled as an "opinion" piece.
Intellihub’s website describes Ambellas as "an opinion journalist, analyst, and the founder and editor-in-chief of Intellihub News & Politics." Ambellas is also, according to the site, a regular contributor to Alex Jones’ InfoWars.com, a website known to traffic in fake news and conspiracy theories.
Ambellas goes on in the story to report that Lorich was working with a team of doctors in Haiti when he "discovered an almost non-existent medical effort backed by the Clinton Foundation." When he was stateside again, the story says, Lorich aired his grievances in an email that was eventually forwarded to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
A note at the end of the article asks readers who they think murdered the doctor. "Did the doctor’s persistence wind up getting him added to the Clinton body count?" the website says. "Please comment and share."
According to Intellihub’s website, it is an "independent news outlet which covers a variety of topics such as politics, the economy, surveillance, liberal corporate media bias, and much more."
Ambellas did not immediately respond to an email seeking more information about the article. An email sent to an address at the bottom of the Intellihub website also went unanswered.
The story links to three outside sources. The first is a New York Post article about the surgeon’s death and the lawsuit he was facing. It doesn’t mention the Clintons or Haiti.
The second is a WikiLeaks page that appears to show an email Lorich wrote in 2010 that was eventually forwarded to Hillary Clinton. By the time it reached the the-secretary of state, the subject line was: "DOCTORS REPORT FROM HAITI."
"Depressing," wrote the aide who forwarded it.
In the email, Lorich describes a trip to Haiti with other doctors to provide trauma care in the wake of a devastating earthquake there. When they arrived, they were discouraged to discover that "disaster management on the ground was nonexistent," according to the email. "The difficulties in getting in despite the intelligence we had from people on the ground and David Helfet’s high political connections with Partner’s in Health as well as the Clintons only portended the difficulties we would have once we arrived."
The email does not mention the Clintons nor the Clinton Foundation again.
The third link is the CNN piece authored by Lorich and surgeons Soumitra Eachempati and David Helfet. "Doctors: Haiti medical situation shameful," the headline reads. They describe their plan to help safely amputate the limbs of injured earthquake victims with a 13-member team of surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses.
"We thought our plan was a good one, but we soon learned we were incredibly naive," the CNN opinion piece says. "Disaster management in Haiti was nonexistent. The difficulties getting in—despite the intelligence we had from people on the ground and Dr. Helfet’s connections with Partners in Health and Bill and Hillary Clinton—only hinted at the difficulties we would have once we arrived."
Lorich and the surgeons wrote of numerous points of failure in the operation before finally taking aim at the United States, writing, "The lack of support for our operation by the United States is shocking and embarrassing and shows how woefully unprepared we are for the realities of disasters."
There is no further elaboration of the involvement of the Clintons or the Clinton Foundation.
As other fact-checkers have noted, the Clintons played a role in Haiti recovery efforts. Hillary Clinton led the U.S. government’s response to the disaster, Bill Clinton was the United Nations special envoy to Haiti and their foundation raised millions for relief projects. The couple faced allegations that their efforts didn’t accomplish enough and that some of the projects they backed benefited foreign investors and the wealthy more than poor Haitians.
Lorich’s criticism was aimed at the United States, not the Clinton Foundation, but conspiracy theories that the Clintons kill their political enemies aren’t new. And Intellihub isn’t alone in promoting the idea that the doctor’s death was retribution. But while these stories lean on some factual information—Lorich traveled to Haiti and he was discovered with a chest wound—there is no evidence that suggests he was murdered by the Clinton family.
We rate this headline Pants on Fire!