Crossing the Line

Confident Doctor shaking hands with patients talk in the hospital

A number of former officers and employees of Preferred Family Healthcare (PFH) of Springfield, Missouri, as well as several former Arkansas politicians are being prosecuted in separate criminal cases for multiple fraud and bribery-related offenses, including violations of the Arkansas and federal False Claims Act. (Crime in the Ozarks doesn’t just exist on Netflix.)

The former charity, which provides mental and behavioral health treatment and counseling, substance abuse treatment and counseling, employment assistance, aid to individuals with developmental disabilities, and medical services in Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Illinois, has been ordered to forfeit $6.9 million to the federal government and must pay $1.1 million in restitution to the state of Arkansas.

Other individuals face charges related to conspiracy to embezzle funds from the charity and bribing elected state officials in the Arkansas House of Representatives and Senate. (They went across state lines and complicated the ruse with politics.)

While PFH has been ordered to pay more than $8 million in forfeiture and restitution to the federal government and the state of Arkansas, the company’s COO and CFO both pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial in October. Milton Russell Cranford, of Rogers, Ark., an employee and Head of Operations and Lobbying in Arkansas, was sentenced to 7 years in federal prison without parole for one count of federal program bribery. Many more pleaded guilty, but sentencing has not yet been scheduled.

PFH agreed to the payments under the terms of a non-prosecution agreement. This means that the criminal conduct of the mental healthcare provider’s former officers and employees have been acknowledged. In other words, the charity is held responsible for their actions as agents of the charity. (You can be sure that they will receive a just punishment.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an April 1, 2022, article by Talk Business & Politics, “Preferred Family Healthcare admits to Medicaid fraud, to pay $8 million.”

Preferred Family Healthcare (PFH), the Springfield, Mo.-based company involved in a broad fraud scheme in Arkansas, will pay more than $8 million in forfeiture and restitution to the federal government and the state of Arkansas.

According to a statement Friday (April 1) from the office of U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, the payment comes under the terms of a non-prosecution agreement, which acknowledges the criminal conduct of the mental healthcare provider’s former officers and employees.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.