NewsEvents

Rutledge Lauds Prison Sentence Of Helena-West Helena Hospice Owner

Says, ‘Residents in Helena-West Helena should feel vindicated with the justice served today’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released the following statement on the decision sentencing Charline Brandon to five years in prison. Brandon, owner of Bridge of Faith Hospice & Palliative Care of Helena-West Helena, pleaded guilty to two counts of Medicaid fraud and one count of willful failure to pay or file taxes.

“Residents in Helena-West Helena should feel vindicated with the justice served today,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Holding facilities and owners to the highest standards is the best way to ensure all Arkansans have access to healthcare facilities near their homes.”

In March, Brandon of Cleveland, Mississippi, pleaded guilty to two counts of Medicaid fraud and one count of willful failure to pay or file taxes. The Medicaid fraud investigation revealed that from September 2013 through December 2016, Bridge of Faith Hospice & Palliative Care was paid gross income of $1,567,432.82 by Medicaid and Medicare and never filed an income tax return in Arkansas. The Medicaid fraud charges resulted from Brandon billing the Arkansas Medicaid Program $289,986.46 for hospice care services provided to two Medicaid recipients who were never terminally ill.

Brandon has pleaded guilty in federal court in Mississippi to similar allegations involving Medicaid and Medicare in Mississippi.

This case was referred to the Arkansas Attorney General’s office by the Mississippi Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General. The case was investigated with assistance from the Arkansas Medicaid Inspector General and prosecuted in cooperation with Sixth Judicial District Prosecutor Larry Jegley. The Corporation Income Tax Section in the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration Tax Auditor also participated in the investigation.

Rutledge Announced Fake Cancer Charities to Pay $2.5 Million

Says, ‘scam artists are being held responsible for preying on Arkansans with big hearts’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the final step in a multistate enforcement action against four sham cancer charities, a lawsuit which was filed in May 2015. The $2.5 million will be distributed among cancer centers across the country as the result of the recovery of settlement dollars from the Cancer Fund of America Inc., Children’s Cancer Fund of America Inc., Cancer Support Services Inc., The Breast Cancer Society Inc., James Reynolds Sr., Kyle Effler, Rose Perkins and James Reynolds Jr. The complaint alleged that the leaders of these sham charities used donated funds to pay themselves exorbitant salaries, luxurious trips, purchase houses and cars as well as day-to-day expenses.

“These scam artists are being held responsible for preying on Arkansans with big hearts,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “People who wanted to honor loved ones were misled into sending money which only lined the pockets of these cons and their families.”

The complaint alleged that the so-called charities, led by James Reynolds and his family members, bilked the public out of more than $187 million between 2008 and 2012. Of the money collected, only 3% was directed to cancer patients in the United States in the form of “care packages” containing religious DVDs, Moon Pies, random items of clothing and various sundries. Cancer Fund of America also claimed to supply patients with pain medications and transportation to chemotherapy treatments, when it provided no such services. The charities also participated in a “gift-in-kind” program in which they sent drugs that had nothing to do with cancer to other countries.

The complaint alleged that the purpose of this program was to make the organizations appear larger than they were while also hiding their high fundraising costs. The complaint also alleged that the leaders of these sham charities used donated funds to pay themselves exorbitant salaries and to go on trips to destinations like Thailand, Las Vegas and Disneyworld. The Reynolds also bought themselves cars, boats, jet skis and houses, and used the charities’ credit cards to buy designer handbags, jewelry and clothing, and to pay for day-to-day expenses such as gas, groceries and utility bills.

The money will be transferred to Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) who, under a services agreement with the plaintiffs, will distribute the funds to select health and medical programs targeting breast and pediatric cancer. Eligibility will be determined through an invitation-only application process, and is limited to NCI-designated Cancer Care Centers, a designation bestowed by the National Cancer Institute on institutions and programs recognized for their scientific leadership, resources, and the depth and breadth of their research. RPA CEO Melissa Berman noted, “We are pleased to be part of this landmark process of ensuring that the philanthropic intent of donors is coming to fruition, despite the conduct of bad actors.” RPA will ensure that the funding will serve patients in all 50 states, and will monitor, ensure compliance and provide detailed reporting for all grants awarded.

Rutledge Applauds SCOTUS American Legion Cross Decision

Decision demonstrates our State’s Ten Commandments monument is constitutional

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge applauds today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of a nearly 100 year old World War I memorial cross. The decision, American Legion v. American Humanist Association, further underscores the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol.

“The Supreme Court’s decision supports the defense of our State’s Ten Commandments monument and demonstrates that our monument is constitutional,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “With today’s decision in play, I am confident Arkansas will ultimately be victorious and that the Ten Commandments will remain where it belongs, on the State Capitol grounds.”

Last July, Rutledge joined a 28-state coalition of attorneys general and the Governor of Kentucky filing a brief in support of Maryland’s litigation to protect their long-standing monument that commemorates those who valiantly died while serving in World War I.

Rutledge Applauds Final Rule Repealing and Replacing the Clean Power Plan

Says, ‘Big win for job creators across America’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge applauds today’s announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the final ruling of President Donald J. Trump’s proposed replacement of the Clean Power Plan. The Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Final Rule comes after Rutledge joined a bipartisan letter urging the EPA to approve the Administration’s proposal.

“The Affordable Clean Energy rule is a big win for job creators across America by returning power back to states rather than a one-size-fits-all mandate from the federal government,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The repealed Obama-era Clean Power Plan was illegal and ignored concerns from the states about anticipated skyrocketing utility rates and impacts on Arkansas businesses and jobs.”

In December, a 21-state coalition of attorneys general filed comments with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expressing support of President Trump’s Affordable Clean Energy rule because it respects the vital role of states in regulating energy and air quality. The rule fully embraces the intent of Congress for cooperation between the State and federal governments, correcting the Obama-era, model would have had a devastating impact on Arkansas ratepayers.

The Affordable Clean Energy rule restores each state’s authority to consider factors specific to the energy needs of the state, including costs, practical achievability and the useful life of any particular power plant. It also adopts a more individualized approach to rulemaking, allowing for achievable targets for individual plants, which is a stark contrast to the Obama EPA’s effort to wholly shutter coal-fired power plants.

Rutledge to Host 8th Annual Never Forgotten Event

July 18 event welcomes Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt as keynote

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the 8th annual Never Forgotten – Arkansas Takes Action event on Thursday, July 18 at the Benton Event Center. The event was established to raise awareness of the challenges associated with missing persons cases for families and law enforcement officials while also recognizing Arkansas’s missing children and adults. Rutledge welcomes Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to keynote the event to discuss his efforts to bring awareness to missing persons investigations. Registration is open for families and law enforcement.

“Never Forgotten – Arkansas Takes Action is a training ground for law enforcement personnel investigating missing persons cases and an opportunity for families of the missing to gather resources and sorely needed support and strength,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This annual event provides a platform for important stakeholders to gather and focus on issues unique to missing persons cases, and has served as a catalyst for the development of outreach initiatives and resources, such as the resource guide for families of missing adults published last year and the successful Missing Person Monday social media campaign.”

From 9:00 to 10:15 a.m., Kevin Metcalf with the Washington County prosecuting attorney’s office will discuss cyber response in missing persons cases. Metcalf is a former federal agent turned prosecutor. He has assisted in the recovery of numerous missing and exploited children and in the identification and apprehension of sexual predators in multiple states. He developed a system for working with cellphone-related data in criminal cases, which is offered by Amazon as a mobile device foundational course and a series of instructional books. He founded the National Child Protection Task Force that brings together recognized experts to aid law enforcement agencies in fields such as strategic legal applications, Open Source Intelligence, cellular mapping and analysis, dark web investigations, and cryptocurrency.

From 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., the Arkansas Attorney General’s office Special Investigations Division will discuss what the division can do to assist law enforcement searching for missing persons when cases involve internet crimes.

Officers will also hear from Arkansas Public Safety Secretary Jami Cook and Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy personnel on best practices for investigating missing and unidentified persons cases. The material covered will provide training and updated information for law enforcement related to the investigation of unidentified and missing persons, fulfilling the training requirement for the newly enacted Act 920.

From noon to 1:00 p.m., Rutledge will host a luncheon, which will include a ceremony to honor families of missing children and adults and to recognize law enforcement officials who work to solve missing persons cases. Keynote speaker for the luncheon will be Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Schmidt serves as a member of the Law Enforcement Advisory Council for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

This program has been approved for 4.5 hours of Continuing Law Enforcement Standards Credit (CLEST).

Rutledge Settles with ITT Tech and CUSO for High Pressure Tactics

Affected Arkansans to receive $1,073,688 in student debt relief

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today has reached a settlement with Student CU Connect LLC (CUSO) for former ITT Tech students resolving a multistate investigation which alleged that ITT and CUSO used high pressure tactics to accept CUSO loans. These student loans carried higher interest rates than federal loans, ultimately resulting in a high number of loan defaults.

“ITT and CUSO deceived Arkansans by using illegal and high pressure tactics and they must be held responsible for their actions,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This settlement provides relief to Arkansans who attended ITT Tech and incurred debts for a questionable education that they could neither repay nor discharge.”

Attorney General Rutledge and other states’ attorneys general alleged that ITT, with CUSO’s knowledge, offered students temporary credit upon enrollment to cover the gap in tuition between federal student aid and the full cost of the education. The temporary credit was due to be repaid before the student’s next academic year, although ITT and CUSO knew or should have known that most students would not be able to repay the temporary credit when it became due. Many students complained that they thought the temporary credit was like a federal loan and would not be due until six months after they graduated.

When it became due, however, ITT pressured and coerced students into accepting loans from CUSO, which for many students carried high interest rates, far above rates for federal loans. Pressure tactics used by ITT included pulling students out of class and threatening to expel them if they did not accept the loan terms. Because students were left with the choice of dropping out and losing any benefit of the credits they had earned – ITT’s credits would not transfer to most other schools – most students enrolled in the CUSO loans. Neither ITT nor CUSO made students aware of the true cost of repayment for the temporary credit until after the credit was converted to a loan.

Not surprisingly, the default rate on the CUSO loans was extremely high (projected to exceed 90%) due to both the high cost of the loans as well as the lack of success ITT graduates had getting jobs that paid enough to make repayment feasible. The defaulted loans continue to affect students’ credit ratings and are usually not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

Under the settlement, the CUSO, under threat of litigation, has agreed that it will forego collection of the outstanding loans. The CUSO, which was organized for the sole purpose of providing the ITT loans, will also cease doing business. Under the Redress Plan, CUSO’s loan servicer will send notices to borrowers about the cancelled debt and ensure that automatic payments are cancelled. The settlement also requires the CUSO to supply Credit Reporting Agencies with information to update credit information for affected borrowers.

ITT filed bankruptcy in 2016 amid investigations by state attorneys general and following action by the U.S. Department of Education to restrict ITT’s access to federal student aid. The CUSO Loan program originated approximately $189 million in student loans to ITT students between 2009 and 2011.

The settlement includes $1,073,688.40 in debt relief for 128 Arkansans.

June
25
Tuesday

Retiree Resources - DeWitt

Retiree Resources

9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
DeWitt First United Methodist Church
608 South Grandview Drive
Register

Senior adults are invited to hear presentations about:

  • Consumer protection tips
  • Home care resources
  • Identity theft
  • Prescription drug disposal
  • Senior scams
  • Telemarketing fraud

Lunch will be provided. For questions or to register by phone, call (501) 682-2007.

 9:00 AMVIEW 
June
25
Tuesday

Polk County Resources Day

Mena-Polk County Senior Center
Ouachita National Forest
401 Autumn Drive, Mena

Mobile Office
10 to 11:30 a.m.

Prescription Drug Take Back
10 to 11:30 a.m.
Prescription drug take back partner: Sheriff Scott Sawyer

Identity Theft and Scam Presentation
11 to 11:30 a.m.

 10:00 AMVIEW 
July
9
Tuesday

Carroll County Resources Day

Carroll County Senior Activity & Wellness Center
202 West Madison Avenue, Berryville

Mobile Office
10:30 a.m. to noon

Prescription Drug Take Back
Law enforcement partner: Sheriff Jim Ross
10:30 a.m. to noon

Identity Theft and Scam Presentation
11:30 a.m. to noon

Carroll County Resources Day

 10:30 AMVIEW 
July
11
Thursday

Woodruff County Resources Day

Woodruff County Senior Life Center
303 Cache Street, Patterson

Mobile Office
10 to 11:30 a.m.

Prescription Drug Take Back
10 to 11:30 a.m.
Prescription drug take back partner: Sheriff Phil Reynolds

Identity Theft and Scam Presentation
11 to 11:30 a.m.

 10:00 AMVIEW 
July
18
Thursday

Never Forgotten

Never Forgotten Arkansas Takes Action artwork

8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Benton Event Center


Never Forgotten eventThe Attorney General’s office, in partnership with other law enforcement agencies and the Morgan Nick Foundation, will host the 8th annual Never Forgotten — Arkansas Takes Action event for families of missing persons and the law enforcement community to raise awareness of the issues surrounding missing persons.

The free event will include a morning session for families followed by a luncheon to recognize Arkansas’s missing.

Sessions in the all-day training sessions for law enforcement will cover material that will meet the requirement to fulfill newly mandated missing persons law enforcement training.

The agenda and Continuing Law Enforcement Education (CLEST) will be announced soon.

For more information, contact Rachel Ellis at 501-682-3645 or rachel.ellis@arkansasag.gov.

Order copies of the Missing Adult Resource Guide online.

REGISTER

 8:30 AMVIEW 
July
18
Thursday

Baxter County Resources Day

Van Matre Activity and Wellness Center
1101 Spring Street, Mountain Home

Mobile Office
9:30 to 11 a.m.

Prescription Drug Take Back
Law enforcement partner: Sheriff John Montgomery
9:30 to 11 a.m.

Identity Theft and Scams Presentation
10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

 9:30 AMVIEW 
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