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Arkansas attorney general charges ex-counselor at nonprofit with Medicaid fraud

by Lisa Hammersly | June 15, 2019 at 4:30 a.m.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is shown during a press conference at her office in Little Rock in this file photo.

The Arkansas attorney general's office has filed Medicaid fraud charges against a licensed professional counselor who worked for Preferred Family Healthcare Inc., a Missouri nonprofit whose former executives are accused of bribing Arkansas legislators.

Michelle Davis, 59, of Texarkana is charged with two counts of Medicaid fraud in connection with making false statements and receiving funding for services not provided, according to a statement Friday from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office.

Davis, who no longer works for Preferred Family, is accused of falsely billing Medicaid for services totalling $4,259. The bills were submitted over more than two years, from Nov. 20, 2015, to March 21, 2018, according to Rutledge's office.

Davis was arraigned Thursday in Circuit Court in Pulaski County, according to an attorney general's office spokesman. She has pleaded innocent and is free on her own recognizance.

Her attorney, Bobby Digby of Little Rock, said he can't comment until he receives the Medicaid billing records connected to the case.

A federal investigation spanning Arkansas and Missouri has accused at least five former Preferred Family executives of stealing from the nonprofit and conspiring to bribe Arkansas legislators to secure state grant money and laws and regulations favorable to the company.

Former state Sen. Henry "Hank" Wilkins IV, D-Pine Bluff, and former Reps. Micah Neal, R-Springdale, and Eddie Cooper, D-Melbourne, have pleaded guilty in the investigation. Former Sen. Jon Woods, R-Springdale, was found guilty at trial. Former Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, R-Little Rock, has been charged and has pleaded innocent.

Preferred Family was once Arkansas' largest provider of behavioral health care -- including mental health and substance abuse treatment -- for state residents who qualify for Medicaid.

Rutledge's office has charged in state court five former Preferred Family employees, including Davis, with fraud and other charges.

Metro on 06/15/2019

Print Headline: Arkansas attorney general charges ex-counselor at nonprofit with Medicaid fraud

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