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KARE 11 Investigates: Troubled jail medical provider files for bankruptcy

The company at the center of KARE 11’s investigations into numerous inmate deaths, MEnD Correctional Care, says they can no longer pay their bills.

SARTELL, Minn. — MEnD Correctional Care, which provides care to more Minnesota jails than any other provider, filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday following years of inmate deaths under the company’s care.

At its height, MEnD provided care to thousands of inmates in more than 40 jails in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois.

But the company’s bankruptcy filing comes amidst numerous lawsuits and mounting investigations accusing the company of negligence, and counties cutting ties and turning to other providers.

MEnD’s owner and founder Dr. Todd Leonard had his license suspended by the state medical board earlier this year for what it called "careless disregard" for the 2018 death of Hardel Sherrell in Beltrami County. Sherrell was left lying in his own filth for days.

Credit: KARE 11
Dr. Todd Leonard supervises the medical care his company provides in county jails.

The Board called Sherrell’s death a tragedy that “should never have occurred. And it must never be allowed to happen again.”

Sherrell’s death prompted ongoing investigations by the FBI and a federal grand jury. The Beltrami County Attorney has turned over a criminal investigation to a private law firm to make recommendations as to whether Leonard should face charges.


An administrative law judge who reviewed Sherrell’s case and recommended Leonard’s license be suspended concluded that “scrutiny should also be applied to the contracts MEnD maintains with Minnesota counties and municipalities, and all the other medical providers who were involved in (Sherrell’s) care.”


Inmate deaths

KARE 11 began investigating MEnD following Sherrell’s death, finding that dozens of inmates in numerous jails have died while the company was in charge of medical care. Several of those deaths appeared to be preventable.

Among those:

Following KARE 11’s reporting, more than a dozen Minnesota counties cut ties with MEnD or considered replacing the troubled company.

That includes Anoka County, which KARE 11 found awarded MEnD a multi-million dollar contract in 2020 when Leonard failed to disclose his company’s troubled history, as well as his own.

That contract called for MEnD to staff the jail with nurses at all times. But there was no nurse on duty when one of the jail’s inmates, Riley Domeier, died in April, which was part of a pattern of the company repeatedly understaffing the jail, KARE 11 found.

Credit: KARE 11
No nurse was on duty when Riley Domeier died in the Anoka County jail.


Leonard began his company around the time the state medical board first sanctioned him in 2011, for what they called “unethical and unprofessional conduct” while he practiced family medicine.

His company grew as he claimed MEnD revolutionized correctional healthcare, in part by delivering a “bottom line that has shown millions of dollars in cost savings for our clients.”

At least two nurses that Leonard employed became whistleblowers, accusing the company of negligence, including in the Sherrell case. That nurse, Stephanie Lundblad, said she "felt like she witnessed a murder."

Credit: KARE 11
Nurse Practitioner Stephanie Lundblad says "I felt like I had witnessed a murder."

The bankruptcy claims about $1.3 million in debts, more than half of which is owed to law firms. Leonard also names himself among his creditors, seeking $240,000 from his company.

MEnD filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which typically means a reorganization rather than a complete shutdown.

Neither Leonard nor his bankruptcy attorney has responded to a request for comment.

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