Licensing Board Puts Psychiatrist Dirk De Brito on Probation for Criminal Conviction

January 25, 2019

On January 25, 2019, the Medical Board of California put psychiatrist Dirk DeBrito on probation for three years with terms and conditions. 

This is the Board's final action in its case against De Brito, which began in 2015, based on complaints it received regarding two incidents in which De Brito was arrested.  

The first arrest was based on an October 14, 2015 assault of his son's nanny. Upon receiving a call from boy's school that his son was sent to school with a dirty diaper, De Brito called the nanny, instructed her to return to De Brito's home, and informed her that he was firing her. According to the Board's report, the nanny felt that something bad was going to happen so she turned on her phone's audio recorder. When she entered the home, De Brito began yelling at her, grabbed her by the neck, and put her in a headlock. He then pushed her to the floor and punched her in the face several times. He took her to the bedroom she occupied and pushed her onto the bed. As she was attempting to reach for the phone, he unplugged it and slapped her in the face. 

During the incident, De Brito threatened that he was going to kill her, dig a hole in the back and put her in it. The nanny took her things and ran to a neighbor's home but they would not open the door. De Brito was outside his home yelling for her to come back and when she did, he soaked her with a garden hose. 

The nanny filed a complaint with the police. The officer who took the report noted that her eye was red, as if a blood vessel has burst, that she had a half-inch laceration under her right eye, and that her hair and clothing were wet. The officer reviewed the phone recording of the altercation, in which De Brito cal be heard yelling "Get your shit. I will kill you stupid bitch." She can be heard screaming in the background while De Brito repeated tells her to "shut the fuck up" and "grab your shit." He threatened to "dig a fucking hole in the backyard and put you in it" and "if I see you back I'm gonna start shooting first." 

When interviewed by police, De Brito told officers he'd fired the nanny and she'd had a panic attack. He denied hitting, slapping, choking, or threatening her, those he admitted to soaking her with the hose. When the officers informed him that the police had a recording of the incident in which he threatened to kill, shoot, and bury the victim, he still denied he'd engaged in any violence, threats or yelling. 

He was placed under arrest and charged with several crimes, 

The second arrest occurred on January 12, 2016 while De Brito was out on bail. At 10:30 that evening a former employee of De Brito's, accompanied by a friend, met De Brito's office manager in the in the parking lot of his office, to return a company car she'd borrowed and to receive her final paycheck. The office manager requested that the former employee sign paperwork prior to releasing the final check. She signed and the office manager gave her an envelope with the check. As she and her friend began to walk away De Brito drove up quickly and exited his vehicle wearing a bulletproof vest. He yelled "Yeah, bitch, you don't want your real check? That's a fake check." She opened the envelope and found a blank piece of paper. Angry at being tricked, she reached over and grabbed the piece of paper she'd just signed from the office manager. 

De Brito grabbed her by the face and neck, threw her to the ground, and stepped on her arm. As he walked back to his vehicle, the former employee got in front of him to try and stop him. He reached into his waistband and drew out a handgun, which he pointed toward the ground. He shoved her out of his way and drove out of the parking lot. 

Officers who responded to a report of the incident observed that the woman had a fresh bruise on her left bicep and redness above her left forearm. During the interview, police noted De Brito exiting the office building, without the bulletproof vest. When interviewed by police, he admitted to having the vest, but denied having a gun. 

Video surveillance footage confirmed that De Brito was wearing the vest before police arrived, and was carrying an unknown object. Police obtained a search warrant for De Brito's office, from which they confiscated a .38 handgun, a 9mm magazine, and 14 unused 9mm hollow point bullets. 

On May 2, 2017, De Brito was convicted of making criminal threats (regarding the nanny) and assault by means of forces likely to produce great bodily injury (regarding the former employee). The court sentenced him to three years probation with conditions which inluded a 52-week anger management course or 52 weeks of psychiatric counseling. 

In September of that year, the Board issued an Interim Order of Suspension--an emergency action taken when the facts presented show a likelihood that serious injury could result to the public before the matter can be brought before a hearing. 

The Board's document states that during a Board-ordered psychological evaluation, De Brito "attempted to justify his behavior by explaining that he was being set up by the victims." 

The document also contains information about De Brito's personal history:

  • In 1993, while still in medical school, he was told by the dean to get counseling though he claimed to not recall why. 
  • During his initial residency (in emergency medicine) which ended approximately 2005, he was admonished several times for having a rough attitude with staff and nurses.
  • He reported a 1988 arrest for attempting to bring a weapon into a courthouse. (In his interview with police following the incident with the nanny, he told them that a gun registered to him was taken from him at a courthouse regarding a 1993 case.")
  • He reported a long history of psychiatric treatment and that he's been taking some form of prescribed amphetamines since he began his psychiatric residency (approximately 2006).  

The terms of the Board's probation require De Brito to obtain 40 hours of anger management. He is also required to enroll in and successfully complete an ethics course, and to obtain an approved practice monitor for the first year of probation at his own expense.

Source: Decision in the Matter of the Accusation Against Dirk De Brito, M.D., license no. A66604, Case No. 800-2015-018088, Medical Board of California, December 27, 2018. 

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