Rutledge Issues Urgent Warning on Equifax and Con ArtistsMon, Sep 18, 2017
Says, ‘Criminals are going to call and email Arkansans looking to exploit the exposure of their personal information’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today is warning Arkansans to be on alert as the Equifax data breach will likely lead to hacking and phishing attempts from con artists and criminals, both over the phone and online. Rutledge, who has taken on a leading role and is working with other states as part of a thorough review, has learned that at least 1.2 million Arkansans may be impacted.
“Criminals are going to call and email Arkansans looking to exploit the exposure of their personal information,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Just because someone calls claiming to be from Equifax or emails claiming to be a bank does not mean they are. Arkansans should stay vigilant as I work with other states to get to the bottom of how and why this data breach occurred.”
Arkansans should be on the lookout for phishing emails that claim to be Equifax and offering to check if your data is compromised, emails that claim a problem has occurred with a credit card or bank, calls or emails from a scammer claiming to be your bank and any unexpected charges on a credit or debit card.
If you have been a victim of identity theft, close accounts that have been tampered with or fraudulently opened and file a complaint with the FTC. The Attorney General’s office also offers an ID Theft Passport to help victims reestablish their good name.
Arkansans can visit ArkansasAG.gov to get the latest information about the breach.
Rutledge Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Reaffirm Individual Free SpeechThu, Sep 14, 2017
Says, ‘These unique and important freedoms must be protected’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, calling on the court to protect the freedom of speech of a baker in Colorado. The brief calls on the Court to follow through on the commitment it made in Obergefell to protect this fundamental right.
“An individual’s free speech must be protected by the government, not threatened,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The Supreme Court has routinely protected free speech and the religious conscience rights of citizens – aspects of our freedom that make this country unique to its core. These unique and important freedoms must be protected.”
The justices will hear arguments in Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission later this year. The owner of Masterpiece Cake Shop in Lakewood, CO declined to bake a wedding cake for a local same-sex couple. Owner Jack Phillips indicated to the couple that he would be glad to make a birthday or graduation cake or a cake for any other occasion. But he could not, consistent with his religious views, design and create a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding. Phillips’ refusal to design and create such a cake is consistent with his refusal to create cakes for Halloween or divorcee parties – events that his religious beliefs prevent him from supporting.
As the coalition notes, “This compulsion of speech is constitutionality forbidden. And for good reason: Government power to order individuals to speak in a manner that violates their conscience is fundamentally at odds with the freedom of expression and tolerance for a diversity of viewpoints that this Nation has long enjoyed and promoted.”
Rutledge has filed this brief after she co-led a 14-state coalition in filing an amicus brief with the Court urging the justices to grant review and protect the religious conscience rights of a Washington florist named Barronelle Stutzman.
Joining Rutledge on today’s brief, which was led by the state of Texas, are the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin, along with the Commonwealth Of Kentucky, by and through Governor Matthew G. Bevin and Paul R. Le Page, Governor of Maine.
Rutledge Announces Conviction of Randolph County Woman for Medicaid FraudTue, Sep 12, 2017
Says, ‘Shirley Contreras repeatedly made fraudulent claims, stealing thousands from the Medicaid Trust fund’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the conviction of a Pocahontas woman for Medicaid fraud. Shirley Diane Contreras pleaded guilty in Pulaski County Circuit Court and was sentenced to three years of probation and was ordered to pay $5,514.04 in restitution and $2,500.00 in fines plus court costs. Contreras paid $3,000 in restitution to the Arkansas Medicaid Program Trust Fund today and will pay the remaining balance at a rate of $418 per month until paid in full.
“Shirley Contreras repeatedly made fraudulent claims, stealing thousands from the Medicaid Trust fund,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The care she claimed to have provided but never did harmed vulnerable Arkansans who were dependent on her for assistance. My staff of attorneys and investigators will continue to investigate and prosecute this fraud across the state.”
Contreras, 48, of Pocahontas pleaded guilty to Theft by Deception, a Class C felony. She was accused of billing for services not rendered to three Medicaid recipients from June 2014 to August 2015, including $2,895.29, a Class B felony; $1801.70, a Class C felony; and $817.05, a Class C felony.
The case was prosecuted in coordination with the 6th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley.
To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, complete the online form at ArkansasAG.gov, call the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rutledge Announces Speakers for 2017 Law Enforcement SummitTue, Sep 12, 2017
Will include the Indiana Attorney General and Boston Transit Police Officer Dic Donohue
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the full slate of speakers for the 15th Arkansas Law Enforcement Summit, which will be held on Oct. 3 at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock. The annual event is a free training and educational opportunity for Arkansas’s law enforcement community, including officers, prosecutors and criminal justice personnel.
“The instructional and networking opportunities that the Law Enforcement Summit presents are invaluable,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I encourage all officers to register to attend so they can hear and learn from these tremendous speakers.”
This year’s summit will begin with Boston Transit Police Officer Dic Donohue. Donohue was grievously injured in April 2013 during a gun battle with two suspects who were later identified as the Boston Marathon bombers. A bullet severed Donohue’s femoral artery and he suffered severe blood loss. He survived because fellow officers gave him immediate lifesaving care and prolonged CPR. Given a 2 percent chance to live, Donohue survived and has been recognized by over 20 law enforcement and civic organizations for his outstanding service. Donohue’s remarks and presentation will begin at 8:30 a.m.
Rutledge will also welcome her colleague Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, who will speak at 10:15 a.m. As Indiana’s chief legal officer, Hill oversees a staff of more than 400 employees spread across multiple divisions. Hill has focused his agenda on four priorities: rolling back federal overreach; protecting families from drugs and violent crime; safeguarding consumers from fraud and scams; and inspiring youth to pursue meaningful lives. Hill was serving his fourth term as Elkhart County prosecutor when he was elected to his current role on Nov. 8, 2016. He took office on Jan. 9, 2017. He earned both his bachelor’s and law degrees from Indiana University in Bloomington.
During a noon luncheon, Rutledge will again recognize one outstanding law enforcement officer from each county in addition to the statewide and regional award winners that will be announced.
The afternoon will include a presentation from the Attorney General’s office Legislative Director Cory Cox on changes to Arkansas law impacting the law enforcement community that occurred during the last regular session of the Arkansas General Assembly. AT&T Asset Protection Senior Investigator Peggy Fletcher and Arkansas Recycling Association General Counsel Walter Wright Jr. and Special Agent Stephen Svetz will speak about combating metal theft. The summit will conclude with a presentation from Deputy Attorney General Will Jones and Special Agent Chris Cone who will discuss forensic tools and techniques to combat cyber criminals.
Registration is open and available at ArkansasAG.gov.
Rutledge Announces Arrest of Benton Woman for Medicaid FraudThu, Sep 7, 2017
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the arrest of a Saline County woman.
Lindsey Nevels, 33, of Benton, was arrested by the Saline County Sheriff’s office. Her bond was set at $10,000 and she was processed and released from the Saline County Jail. She is charged with one count of Medicaid fraud, a Class B felony for the misrepresentation of material facts that resulted in the Arkansas Medicaid Program incorrectly expending benefits totaling $12,165. In addition, Nevels is charged with one count of abuse of an endangered or impaired person, a Class B felony where she misappropriated $3,285.
Medicaid fraud occurs when providers use the Medicaid program to obtain money to which they are not entitled. To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or email@example.com.
Attorneys General Reach $13.4 Million Settlement with U.S. Bioservices PharmacyThu, Sep 7, 2017
Arkansas will receive almost $30,000
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has reached an agreement to settle allegations against U.S. Bioservices Corporation, a specialty pharmacy headquartered in Frisco, Texas.
The settlement resolves allegations that the corporation knowingly recommended the drug Exjade to Medicaid patients in exchange for kickbacks from Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation which markets the drug. Under the settlement, U.S. Bioservices has agreed to pay $13.4 million to the United States and over thirty states. Arkansas will receive $29,046 under the settlement.
“Another company is being held accountable for its greedy mentality to encourage the use of the drug Exjade,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “There is no place for threatening tactics especially in the health care marketplace. The health and well-being of the patient must be paramount.”
Exjade was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in late 2005 for the treatment of chronic iron overload due to blood transfusions. When Novartis launched Exjade, it created a closed distribution network, consisting of three pharmacies selected by Novartis, through which most Exjade prescriptions in the United States were filled. As a result, Novartis controlled which pharmacy filled many of the prescriptions for Exjade dispensed through the network. The settlement resolves allegations that U.S. Bioservices participated in a scheme in which Novartis paid kickbacks to pharmacies by giving more prescription referrals to the pharmacy that kept patients on Exjade the longest.
The settlement with U.S. Bioservices is the fourth government settlement in connection with the Exjade drug and the patient referral system set up by Novartis. In early 2014, another pharmacy, BioScrip Inc., agreed to pay $15 million to resolve similar allegations. In July 2015, Accredo Health Group Inc., agreed to pay $60 million to resolve their part in the alleged kickback scheme. Arkansas received $141,202 under that settlement. Finally, in December 2015, Novartis agreed to pay $390 million to resolve the related allegations made against it after 11 states and the federal government had intervened in the whistleblower action. Arkansas received $612,291 under that settlement.
A National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units Team participated in the settlement negotiations on behalf of the states and included representatives from attorneys general of Washington, California, Indiana, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and New York.