In 2011, researchers at the University of California tested the hypothesis that the balance of bacteria in our body plays a larger role in regulating our emotions and behaviors than was previously thought. What goes on in our gut, as it turns out, is extremely important. The American Psychiatric Association says “gut bacteria manufacture about 95 percent of the body’s supply of serotonin, which influences both mood and GI activity”. Looks like our gut feelings are regulating our emotions. In this study, mice that were timid and shy were given a specific cocktail of certain antibiotics and the outcome was that they became energetic and adventurous, taking risks they wouldn’t typically take.
According to Psychology Today, a “gut feeling is sudden, strong judgments whose origin we can’t immediately explain.” It served man in the pre-historic ages when we had to fight off other tribes, and animals. Today, it can help us make healthy choices, and avoid toxic individuals and dangerous situations. Scientists, biologists and psychologists continue to research the impact that our ‘gut’ has on the body and mind.
Why am I talking about your gut; the part of your abdomen you’re used to sucking in, Spanxxing in, and otherwise pretending isn’t there? Because when I read about a doctor by a similar name, my gut turned. I felt the churning pang of achy nausea that tends to come over me when my primal senses are telling me, ‘Something here is wrong’. Interestingly, this feeling is prompted examination of one Dr. Alejandro Isgut.
In 1975, Alejandro Isgut and his wife Doraliza moved to Newtown, Connecticut. A young couple, they were ready to start a life together. Dr. Isgut and his wife are from Argentina. The doctor graduated from Cordoba University in 1967. From there, he was accepted for a rotatory internship at Grace Hospital, Winnipeg, Canada. In 1971, Isgut became a pediatric resident at the Hospital of St. Raphael’s at Yale University in New Haven. By 1975, Isgut was offered a full time permanent position at Danbury Hospital.
That year, the woman publicly known as Nancy Lanza was just a 15 years old in Kingston, New Hampshire. Nancy was Nancy Champion–“Beanie” to her friends. She had no idea what lay before her, and how one day her path would cross with this South American doctor.
In 1980, Dr. Isgut opened his own practice in Newtown–a pediatric group on Church Hill Road. The offices are conveniently located at the center of a town consisting of hundreds of families with young children, ready to be paged by middle-of-the-night calls from weary parents with croup coughing babies, and the busy bustle of back-to-school physicals for the town’s school athletes.
By that year, Dr. Isgut and wife Dora owned several properties in Newtown, one on Great Hill Road and another on Birch Hill Road. They decided to buy yet another property on Tanglewood Road. Three years later, in 1983, Dr. Isgut and a man named William Colbert purchased another property on Church Hill Road which would become the Newtown Pediatric Medical offices–Family Health Care Center. The Isguts have kept their language, and even some property in Argentina. They are a part of a home exchange program, similar to a time share program, where families can stay at their terracotta piece of heaven south of the Equator.
On real estate documents in Kingston, NH, the Isguts list a Post Office Box 752 in Newtown as a mailing address. According to phone records, the home is being lived in by Maria Zullo aka Maria Buttafocco aka Maria Isgut– the Connecticut doctor’s daughter.
In addition to working at a practice with a few other pediatricians, Dr. Isgut has admitting privileges at Danbury Hospital. One of the staff at his family pediatric practice is a women by the name of Maureen Engel. This is noteworthy, since later you will see him quoted as mentioning his patient, victim Olivia Rose Engel, with no mention of any relation to his professional associate, and Olivia’s mother, Maureen. Dr Isgut is also cited on his website as being an adjunct professor at Quinnipiac College in Hamden, Connecticut.
Throughout the 80s and 90s, Dr Isgut completes dozens of real estate transactions including new mortgages, liens, and foreclosures. In 1997, Dr. Isgut foreclosed on a property with Bruce D. and Kathleen E. Martin, as well as Jeffrey R. and Laurie J. Picerno et al.
In any event, as the years went on Dr. Isgut found himself in a pot of hot water. In 1999 a patient of his committed suicide. The 20 year old man was being prescribed excessive amounts of the ADHD drug Ritalin, and the doctor was not supervising the dosage correctly. In fact, several times he prescribed the drug he had not even seen the patient and prescribed over the phone.
This can be done, of course, but in the case of this controlled substance in particular there are regulations about how the prescribing doctor needs to treat the patient, especially where Ritalin- whose effects can mimic speed in some patients and have addictive properties- has the potential for misuse and abuse. For example, college students crush pills up and snort them to pull all-nighters; ‘poor man’s cocaine’ they call it.
In 1999, that young man killed himself, and in a case that spans New York and Connecticut—since it appears the suicide occurred in New York state–Dr. Isgut was investigated. He lost his medical license in New York, and was reprimanded by the Board in Connecticut. Dr. Isgut’s checkered past, though concerning, did not cause him to lose his license in CONNECTICUT, and he continues to practice medicine.
On 5/10/2004, Dr. Isgut and his wife quit claim two of their properties into both of their names, and into her name only, respectively. Later that year, on October 25, 2004, Dr. Alex Isgut and Doraliza Isgut sign power of attorney to Newtown lawyer Michael Nahoum.
It is important to note is that the power of attorney being signed is not common. If you’re reading this, you’re probably an adult, and you’ve probably heard about power of attorney before, especially if you’ve ever cared for an elderly family member, or been witness to a person’s incapacitation, and all of the paperwork and planning that accompanies it. However, according to a lawyer I consulted specializing in civil law—divorce/custody, real estate, and estate planning—it is not common for relatively young, healthy individuals to do this. There are some circumstances in which this may be useful, however.
For example, if a husband and wife are planning on making a large purchase- such as a home- which will require signatures of both parties, legal documents, financial paperwork, and the husband plans on being out of state for an extended time, and there are a lot of documents to sign, giving the wife the power of attorney will allow her to sign for her husband and facilitate smoother business.
Power of attorney is most commonly granted to a family member in the situation of a very sick individual, or an elderly person, so that in the event of that person’s death, or incapacitation, the individual can manage that person’s estate. This attorney went on to indicate that power of attorney is a document which can make identity theft possible, enabling the power-holder to make important decisions and sign binding documents on behalf of the other party. Unless otherwise indicated, divorce and death are the two circumstances under which those documents are null and void.
I raise this point because the Isgut power of attorney signing is strange, but not criminal. Interesting, but not indicative of much. Maybe they were sick. They aren’t extremely old, but surely they are nearing retirement in their 60s. Maybe they planned on traveling and needed Attorney Nahoum to act in their stead. Attorney Nahoum, like Isgut, does not have a clean past—he has a reprimand on his record.[IMAGE 2]
Certainly, this cannot be related to the event at Sandy Hook, right? Perhaps. Yet where else have I seen Power of Attorney documents?
- In July 1998, Peter Lanza signs power of attorney to Nancy Lanza.
- On August 1, 2005 Matthew Hubbard signs power of attorney to Jennifer Hubbard.
- On January 5, 2010 Robert Manfredonia, of 16 Yogananda St., signs power of attorney to wife Jeanette Manfredonia. Robert is brother to Bill (former Newtown Principal) and brother to Chris (‘accidentally’ arrested at Sandy Hook that morning, was running away from the school and said he was there to build gingerbread houses with his daughter that morning). Jeanette is a teacher in Newtown.
- On June 28, 1996, Cheryl Lafferty (Dawn Hochsprung’s mother) signed power of attorney to husband Ronald Lafferty.
These names and facts are what I had available to me from the documents I collected at a trip to Newtown Town Hall. I did a cursory search of the names “involved” in this event, and saved the information. Unfortunately, this data is not available online, I do not live within a convenient proximity to Newtown to pop in and out of the Town Hall offices, and each document has to be searched one by one, by name and/or address. It makes finding and documenting information very tedious. However, I feel this merits a closer look, and some exposure, so that together we can continue to sift through the facts that we have.
There was no way that the Iguts knew that they might somehow be intertwined in the Sandy Hook School massacre. They had–in 1998–bought the Lanza home in Kingston, thus securing a tragic fate for the Lanza family in Newtown … Right?
Maybe the Lanzas thought they would stay in New Hampshire. Kingston, New Hampshire is a 21 square mile town of about 6, 000 people, considerably smaller than the vast and rural expanses boasted by Newtown. It would seem the perfect place to raise a young family; town festivals, family friendly car shows, carnivals, Bingo Nights, and religious events- everything a young couple with 2 small boys could ask for.
However, it was not that different in Newtown, and when Peter’s job allegedly called for a move, the family had to trek across a few states to Connecticut. They were not just leaving behind an idyllic community named “One of the Best Family Towns” by Coldwell Banker. They were also leaving behind a family member, their neighbor- James “Jim” Champion, Nancy’s brother, lived at 46 Depot Road.
The Lanzas were going to be leaving 44 Depot Road. The house in Newtown was underway. The new home was a spacious colonial, sitting atop the rolling hill that is Yogananda Street, in the new development in Bresson Farm- a large, rural neighborhood flowing with soft elm and evergreen trees, and a view of the entire town. Perhaps the most sought after and topographically elevated new neighborhood, lots were purchased quickly.
When the home was complete, they moved to Newtown–at 36 Yogananda St. It was 1998. Maybe Nancy and Peter thought they were getting a fresh start. We do not have much to go on to determine what the Lanzas were like as a family. There are no family photos that have been released, and crime scene photos of the Lanza home hardly show any personal effects at all.
Some of the details and circumstances surrounding Sandy Hook are so improbably and bizarre that they are farcical. When unraveling this web of lies, I feel like Clark Griswold in Christmas vacation with his iconic mess of tiny lights and wires; I am holding a ball of illumination whose light is being blocked from view by its own entanglement.
It was while reading about Newtown that I came across an article and became familiar with Isgut. In an article appearing in the Washington Post just a few days after the Sandy Hook massacre, Igut basically bashes Nancy Lanza (“In Newtown, Nancy Lanza a Subject of Sympathy for Some, Anger for Others,” December 19, 2012). Setting aside one’s view on gun control, a little personified voice grew in my gut and this little voice thought, “This feels wrong, to talk poorly about a murder victim, a mother, newly deceased.”
Dr. Isgut told the Washington Post reporters that he was victim Olivia Rose Engel’s doctor, and that he was “disgusted” with Nancy Lanza; adding “though I had never met her or Adam”. He went on to say , “If you have an arsenal, you must be responsible for it.” Isgut told The Post: “My daughter called me for other reasons that Friday morning, and I told her there has been a massacre here.
“At that time, the name Ryan Lanza [Adam’s brother] came on TV, and I told her, and she said, ‘Oh, my God, that’s the people I bought the house from.”
“My wife, she started to cry. She thought, “What would have happened if he got the [firearm] and decided to go back to his original home and kill everybody there?”
Isgut said his daughter bought the property in 1998 from the boys’ mom, Nancy Lanza, whom Adam killed in the rampage. Nancy’s brother — Adam’s uncle James Lanza — still lives next door.
When I asked the Washington Post for an information about how the quotes were obtained, I received a reply from the article’s author, Kevin Sullivan:
I honestly couldn’t remember, so I checked around. My colleague Tim Craig, who is now based in Pakistan, had the answer. Tim interviewed the doctor at his office. Tim had just returned from a couple of days of reporting in Kingston, NH, where Nancy Lanza’s family was from. Someone up there told Tim about Dr. Isgut, so he stopped at his office when he returned to Newtown. Tim supplied the reporting about Isgut that appeared in the story, which is why he had the credit at the end of the piece.
There are a number of holes in Isgut’s remarks, however. First, he bought the home, not his daughter. Second, if his daughter called him “for other reasons that morning”, when he told her what had occurred, he would have known who the Lanzas were. The secrecy is concerning, and is enough to raise an eyebrow. Doraliza’s response is interesting. It seems, on its face, to be a bizarre statement, slightly out of place. That is how this all feels, nothing too overt, just misplaced.
Have you ever loaned your car to someone, and you get it back from them, and it is in perfect condition? No issues, they even topped off your gas tank, but when you finally sit down the seat is an inch further back than you keep it, and your mirrors are askew blocking your rear and side views. Nothing is broken, but it is uncomfortable; everything feels it needs adjusting. That is how this event and the players’ responses feel- uncomfortable. Let us remember; based on thousands of years of evolution and experience, our gut feelings are always right.
What does this all mean? The Lanza home in Kingston, NH is purchased by a Newtown doctor, and he does not live there, but his daughter does. He is quoted by the press as saying that he never met the Lanzas, and that his daughter bought the home. Small discrepancies, but strange nevertheless. Then, searches on Alexander Isgut and Police Officer James Champion- Nancy’s brother- return ANOTHER common location. It seems that both Dr. Isgut and Nancy’s brother – Jim Champion- have past addresses in Summertown, Tennessee. Summertown Tennessee? I had never heard of it. And, if you haven’t that’s probably OK since most Tennesseans haven’t either.
Summertown, TN is what is known as “an intentional community”- basically, a commune. To reside there, you must be brought in by a member of the group, and the group votes and decides if you can stay. The community does its own farming and in co-op style they attempt to barter and trade goods and services when they can to keep to themselves as much as possible.
A couple decades ago at the height of free love and flower children, Summertown TN had over 2000 people – “members”. Today, it is barely thriving at 800 with the last of the members hanging on to the good old days. What on earth were Jim Champion and Dr. Isgut doing there? What are their ties to a commune down south, and how do these threads all Connecticut?
Where are they leading?
What is YOUR gut feeling?
In Isgut v. State of Conn. Med. Examining Bd. , Dr. Isgut was assessed a $4,500 civil penalty “for failing to meet the standard of care required of physicians in Connecticut with respect to the care and treatment of a patient that he had prescribed [R]italin for and failed to monitor properly.” In 1997, the 21-year-old patient “complained to [Dr. Isgut] that he was having difficulty with reading, studying, organizing and finishing his work.” Dr. Isgut diagnosed the patient with ADD and prescribed a fourteen day trial of Ritalin; the patient came in for a follow-up visit approximately two weeks later and reported improvement. For the next nineteen months Dr. Isgut continued to issue the patient new Ritalin prescriptions after speaking with him on the phone. In March 1999, Dr. Isgut saw the patient in person, “noticed [he] looked tired, but failed to see any signs of drug abuse,” and continued to issue the patient Ritalin prescriptions. On June 8, 1999, the patient committed suicide.
The Board blamed Dr. Isgut, not for the patient’s suicide, but for failing to see a patient for which he had prescribed Ritalin at least every six to twelve months and for not conferring with a health care professional at the patient’s college. The Connecticut Superior Court upheld its decision, affirming the Board’s position that, based on its own expertise, it had the authority to decide the standard of care for a licensed physician treating a patient with Ritalin.
Maureen Engel, APRN*
Maureen Engel, MS, APRN is a Board Certified Adult Nurse Practitioner. She graduated with a BS Degree in Nursing from Fairfield University. She worked as an RN in the field of Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City; Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, CA and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston before joining the Family Health Care Center in 1989. Maureen returned to Graduate School at Western Conn State University and graduated with a Masters Degree in Nursing in 1999.
Maureen has been on staff at Family Health Care Center for over 18 years and made the transition from RN to Adult APRN within our Practice. She is certified to diagnose, treat and prescribe for patients 12 years of age and older.
Maureen has lived with her husband and three children in Sandy Hook since 1985. She enjoys stitching, antiquing, gardening and reading.
*Note: APRN Maureen Engel is of unique interest here due to the fact that Dr. Isgut makes it a point to tell the media he was victim Olivia Rose Engel’s pediatrician: so yet again, another coincidence. According to State Docs Engel is APRN Lic.#: 2237
Newtown Doctors’ Vein Institute ribbon cutting ceremony. Maureen Engel in center. To Engel’s left are Dr. Alejandro Isgut and Newtown First Selectwoman Pat Llodra.
Duke Reichert attended a highly esteemed university in New England and has had a fruitful career in both business and government. A natural skeptic, he applies logic to illogical and puzzling circumstances in an effort to sift out fact from fiction. Due to the nature of this topic, and its highly controversial content, Reichert has been writing under this nom de plume and looks forward to the day when truth is championed and he no longer has to do so.