U.S. Supreme Court Reveals Rutledge’s PBM Argument DateFri, Feb 21, 2020
Rutledge says, ‘one step closer to protecting Arkansans from skyrocketing prescription drug prices’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the U. S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Arkansas’s pharmacy benefit manager case on April 27 in Washington, D.C. The case, Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), will focus on the State’s ability to protect Arkansas small businesses in rural areas and save community pharmacies from abusive pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) payment practices.
“We are now one step closer to protecting Arkansans from skyrocketing prescription drug prices by holding PBMs accountable,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Nationwide, rural pharmacies are faced with unfair business practices by PBMs that harm consumers and our communities. It’s time states like Arkansas had the power to protect themselves and ensure Arkansans are able to receive necessary medications.”
In 2015, the Arkansas General Assembly enacted Act 900 to regulate PBMs who play the role of intermediary, reimbursing pharmacists for prescription drugs dispensed to insurance beneficiaries. Before Act 900’s enactment, PBMs were found to reimburse pharmacies at less than a pharmacy’s cost to acquire a drug causing more than 16 percent of rural pharmacies to close in recent years.
In 2015, PCMA filed a lawsuit to blocked enforcement of Act 900. U.S. District Judge Brian Miller ruled Act 900 was preempted by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and in 2017 the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Miller’s ruling
Rutledge petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court in November 2018. Rutledge’s petition was supported by the U.S. Solicitor General and a bipartisan, 32-state coalition led by California.
On January 10, 2020, the Supreme Court granted Rutledge’s petition. The case is Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, No.18-540.
Rutledge Sues Firm for Illegally Enforcing Veterans’ Pensions Assignment ContractsThu, Feb 20, 2020
Rutledge says, ‘We will always go after those who try to take advantage of our veterans’
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the filing of a complaint against Candy Kern-Fuller and Howard Sutter, lawyers at UpState Law Group in South Carolina for substantially assisting brokers with the illegal sale of veterans’ future pension payments. Kern-Fuller and Sutter are accused of developing the contract approval, payment collection and enforcement processes. The broker companies falsely told veterans that they were selling their future payments for a reduced lump-sum. In reality, the veterans’ pension assignment contracts were high interest loans that were void from the start. These deceptive and unfair acts and practices violate state and federal laws protecting veterans.
“Veterans who dedicated their lives to this country were vulnerable to scam artists who will stop at nothing to try to poach our veterans’ pensions despite state and federal protections,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “We will always go after those who try to take advantage of our veterans and their much deserved benefits.”
Attorney General Rutledge joins the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the state of South Carolina in asking the court to issue an injunction, provide redress to consumers and impose civil money penalties. The Complaint, filed in the Greenville Division of the United States District Court of South Carolina, alleges that Defendants’ deceptive and unfair acts and practices violate state and federal laws protecting veterans.
Last August, the federal CFPB joined Attorney General Rutledge in the investigation and settlement of claims against Andrew Gamber and his companies; Voyager Financial Group LLC, BAIC Inc., and SoBell Corp. for the brokering of contracts that offer high-interest credit to veterans in exchange for investors illegally acquiring rights to receive future pension payments. These businesses and their former owner are permanently prohibited from offering these illegal agreements. Defendants must cooperate fully with the Attorney General and CFPB to determine the identity and location of, and the amount of injury sustained by, each consumer.
If you are a consumer who has been impacted by the actions of Voyager Financial Group, SoBell, BAIC, Performance Arbitrage, Life Funding Options or UpState Law Group or its owners, Rutledge encourages you to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 482-8982.
Attorney General Rutledge Sues a Hot Springs Woman Operating as a Money Mule in Multi-Million Dollar Jamaican SchemeWed, Feb 19, 2020
Says, ‘Jean Butler was and has always been an active, willing participant in this fraudulent money mule scheme’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a lawsuit today against a Hot Springs woman who facilitated a multi-million dollar international sweepstakes scheme. The complaint alleges that Jean Butler, 73, is funneling fraudulently obtained funds through numerous bank accounts to the operators of the scheme in Jamaica.
“Jean Butler was and has always been an active, willing participant in this fraudulent money mule scheme,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Money mules like Butler who help scammers take advantage of Arkansans and people across the country must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
In these types of schemes and in this particular case, the operators, who are often in foreign countries, contact potential victims and say they have won a jackpot or lottery but must first pay taxes or fees before receiving the prize. The victims are instructed to send this payment to a person in the U.S., commonly referred to as a “money mule,” like Butler. The money mule opens bank accounts and deposits money received from these victims. The operators then withdraw those funds for themselves. In Butler’s case, investigators estimate she opened numerous bank accounts and facilitated the transfer of about $6 million to the operators of the scheme in Jamaica. The victims, usually seniors or other vulnerable persons, never received the promised prize and discover all too late that the money they sent to the money mule is gone.
Butler is accused of acting as a money mule since 2017 in a scheme purporting to be the “Mega Millions” lottery. After opening bank accounts, Butler would inform the bank that she would be traveling out of the country that way avoiding raising suspicions about the foreign transactions. Banks would eventually suspect fraudulent activity and close the accounts. Butler would then open an account in another bank and continue the activity.
Investigators determined that Butler was aware of her actions and complicit in her involvement in the scheme. The various victims of this scheme are reportedly from throughout the U.S. and Canada.
The lawsuit, filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court, alleges that Butler violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) and seeks restitution for affected consumers, civil penalties and an injunction prohibiting Butler from further participating in this or any other scheme. The lawsuit also requires her to cooperate with any additional law enforcement investigations into the scheme. Any person who violates the ADTPA may be subject to civil penalties up to $10,000 per violation. The Attorney General’s Office coordinated this effort with the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The recruitment of money mules is on the rise, often deceptively advertised as “work from home jobs” or “online jobs”, and appear to be attractive options for the elderly or college students to make money easily. It is common for those who participate in money mule activity to not even be aware they are facilitating an illegal operation. If you suspect that you or someone you know may be a victim of money mule activity, or to file a consumer-related claim with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, call (800) 482-8982, email email@example.com or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
Rutledge Launches Annual 75-County Tour in Ft. SmithFri, Feb 14, 2020
Says, ‘meetings allow me the opportunity to hear directly from folks in their hometowns about issues faced by their communities’
FORT SMITH – Today, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge launched her Rutledge Roundtable of 2020 with community and business leaders in Sebastian County. The event kicked off her sixth consecutive year of hosting roundtable meetings in all 75 counties around the State.
“As I visit all 75 counties each year, these meetings allow me the opportunity to hear directly from folks in their hometowns about issues faced by their communities,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “By meeting people where they live, we can work on real solutions immediately.”
Since taking office in 2015, Rutledge has hosted 384 Roundtables with over 4,300 participants. Each meeting has included officials from local businesses, local and State government, farmers, faith leaders, educators and representatives from various other industries.
In addition to the Roundtables, Rutledge had a record year in 2019 with 2,232 Arkansans visiting an Attorney General Mobile Office throughout the State, and 2020 is already on pace to exceed the record. The mobile office initiative was created in 2015 to provide a county-by-county location to personally assist consumers in filing consumer complaints and answer questions about the full range of services provided by the Attorney General’s Office. After the success of the initiative in 2015, Rutledge expanded to include Prescription Drug Take Back boxes during each visit. The office collaborates with local law enforcement agencies across the State to handle a secure box and properly dispose of the prescriptions collected. Since the addition of this service, the boxes have allowed authorities to properly dispose of nearly 620 pounds of expired or unused medications.
For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s Office, visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.
Rutledge Releases Statement Following Federal Court’s Decision to Uphold Ending Arkansas Works RequirementsFri, Feb 14, 2020
Office will coordinate with federal officials to determine appropriate course of action
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today issued the following statement after the U.S. Court of Appeals decision to uphold vacating the Arkansas Works Medicaid Demonstration Project.
“I am disappointed in today’s decision and am reviewing and discussing next steps with the Department of Justice.
“The effect of this decision is that work and community engagement requirements cannot be enforced, and Arkansas must provide three months of retroactive coverage instead of the one month allowed under the Arkansas Works approval. Beneficiaries who did not comply with the work and community engagement requirements for three consecutive months in 2018 and were removed from the program remain eligible to reapply for coverage through the Medicaid expansion program.”
Rutledge: Child Abuse Public Service Announcement LaunchedFri, Feb 7, 2020
Says, ‘If something doesn’t seem quite right, say something’
LITTLE ROCK –Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released her public service announcement (PSA) on her YouTube channel addressing the warning signs of child abuse. One in every five children in Arkansas suffers abuse from family, friends or neighbors.
“Many of us were blessed to grow up in a loving home, but not every child does,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “If something doesn’t seem quite right, say something, and save a child’s life.”
The Special Investigations Department (SID) of the Attorney General’s Office has statewide jurisdiction. These certified law enforcement officers are committed to protecting Arkansas’s children by investigating and arresting those who sexually exploit children online. SID is also a member of the Arkansas Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and cooperates with federal, State and local law enforcement agencies.
The public service announcement can be viewed now on Rutledge’s YouTube page and will launch on air Sunday, February 9 during the Oscars. It can later be seen on various networks and cable stations throughout the State.
Arkansans who have questions can email the office at oag@ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.