Rutledge Reaches Nearly $200,000 Settlement with Little Rock SpaWed, May 15, 2019
Says, ‘Arkansans who were hurt financially by Indulgences by Body Bronze’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Body Bronze LLC and its owners, Molly Verbrugge and Lila Riggs have reached a settlement to resolve allegations that Indulgences by Body Bronze continued to sell VIP membership plans, spa service packages and gift certificates during the busy 2017 holiday season, but abruptly closed its doors on January 8, 2018, without warning to consumers or employees.
“Arkansans who were hurt financially by Indulgences by Body Bronze will now be made whole,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The owners are being held accountable for soliciting and accepting prepayments from customers without regard to whether the company would be able to provide customers the goods and services they purchased.”
The consent judgment, which was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court, includes $98,510.02 in restitution to 241 Arkansas consumers, and $100,000 in civil penalties. Verbrugge and Riggs are also prohibited from operating another spa-type business in Arkansas.
Indulgences by Body Bronze was a day spa in west Little Rock and advertised services including pedicures, massages, facial treatments and laser hair removal.
Rutledge filed a consumer-protection lawsuit against Indulgences by Body Bronze in February 2018.
Rutledge Joins 16-State Coalition’s Amicus Brief Opposing Illinois Gun RestrictionsMon, May 13, 2019
Says, ‘Constitutional rights do not stop at state lines’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined 15 other states on an amicus brief supporting the Second Amendment and arguing against Illinois’s restrictions on the rights of non-residents to carry guns in public.
“Constitutional rights do not stop at state lines,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The Founding Fathers ensured our right to bear arms with the Second Amendment, and it is important to protect that right against attacks by individual state governments that think the Constitution does not apply to them.”
Illinois law prohibits any person from carrying a firearm without an Illinois concealed carry license. Illinois bars non-residents from even applying for a license unless they live in a state with firearm laws substantially similar to Illinois’s.
The 16-state coalition urges the entire United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to review an erroneous decision upholding Illinois’s unconstitutional restrictions.
The 15 states joining Arkansas in the brief are Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
Rutledge Submits Comments to the FCC on Illegal SpoofingMon, May 6, 2019
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge submitted comments today on the Truth in Caller ID Act rulemaking process, which will enable the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to combat caller ID spoofing activities originating outside the United States.
“Arkansas has been leading the charge against these incessant and illegal spoofing calls that scam Arkansans out of thousands of dollars and are often directed to our most vulnerable citizens,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This proposed rule would expand the FCC’s authority to hold these bad actors accountable for the harm they cause.”
In March, Rutledge worked with legislators to enact stiffer penalties for illegal robocalls and spoofing, which faced no opposition. Arkansas has joined 49 other states and 4 U.S. territories in sending a letter to the U.S. Senate encouraging the passage of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act.
In February, Rutledge also sent a letter to the FCC demanding they take more aggressive measures to require telecoms to use existing technology to identify and stop illegal robocalls.
Rutledge joined the coalition with 42 other states to submit the comments.
Rutledge Urges the Fifth Circuit to Affirm Decision that Obamacare Is UnconstitutionalTue, Apr 30, 2019
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced Arkansas joined Texas and 16 other states in a brief urging the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm the decision that the Affordable Care Act and its individual mandate are unconstitutional.
“Today, Arkansas is one step closer to upending this unconstitutional law,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The unconstitutional individual mandate was the backbone of this law and without it in place, Obamacare cannot be upheld. Congress must take action to increase health care options, lower costs and protect those with pre-existing conditions."
In the brief filed today, the 18-state coalition argues that the district court was right to let them challenge the individual mandate because it increases the amount they spend on state health-insurance programs. The brief also defends the district court’s decision that all of Obamacare must be invalidated because the individual mandate is now unconstitutional against the arguments in an earlier Fifth Circuit brief by a separate, California-led coalition of states, which seeks to reverse the district court’s decision.
In December, a U.S. district court in Texas agreed with the 18-state coalition after the group filed a lawsuit earlier last year challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare. They argued that Congress rendered all of Obamacare unconstitutional by doing away with the tax penalty in Obamacare’s individual mandate when it enacted President Donald J. Trump’s tax overhaul.
In 2012, a majority of the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare against a constitutional challenge and held that the individual mandate was a valid exercise of Congress’s tax power. But a different majority also held that Congress did not have the power to create the individual mandate under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. As Chief Justice John Roberts explained, and the four justice dissent agreed, the Commerce Clause gives Congress power to regulate commerce – but not to compel it, which is what the individual mandate does.
Rutledge Hosts Retiree Resources Event in JonesboroMon, Apr 29, 2019
Says, ‘It is important to meet Arkansans in their communities’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today hosted a regional Rutledge Retiree Resources event in Jonesboro. The agenda included programs designed to educate retirees from northeast Arkansas about how they can protect themselves from pervasive and vicious scam artists.
“It is important to meet Arkansans in their communities to ensure they have access to services we provide,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These events provide educational tools to stop scammers and protect families.”
Attendees heard from the Attorney General’s public protection experts about protecting themselves from scams and identity theft, proper prescription drug disposal, resources regarding nursing homes and home care, and protecting finances.
The first Rutledge Retiree Resources was held in Fayetteville in March. Registration is available for additional Rutledge Retiree Resources events that are scheduled for June 25 in DeWitt and September 5 in Little Rock.
Rutledge Announces Arrest of New Beginnings Health Services Owner for Medicaid Fraud and Tax EvasionThu, Apr 25, 2019
Failing to report contracts with Milton “Rusty” Cranford, Robin Raveendran, and her former husband Michael Grimes
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced today the arrest of the owner and CEO of New Beginnings Behavioral Health Services LLC, Chirie Bazzelle.
Bazzelle, 46, of Benton, is accused of failing to report contracts with Milton “Rusty” Cranford, Robin Raveendran, and her former husband Michael Grimes who is a convicted felon. She is also accused of continuing the employment of individuals who had been convicted of Medicaid fraud and ignoring additional Medicaid fraud claims of other employees. Bazzelle has been listed as the sole owner of New Beginnings Behavioral Health Services in Pulaski County since 2010. Bazzelle is also accused of attempting to evade taxes from January 2014 through February 2019.
“Bad actors who have their hands in the taxpayer cookie jar must be held accountable,” says Attorney General Rutledge
In June, Rutledge announced the arrest of former Preferred Family Healthcare Director of Program Integrity and Director of Operations, Raveendran, for scamming the Arkansas Medicaid Program of $2.2 million. Raveendran is also a former Senior Auditor with Arkansas’s Medicaid Program Integrity Unit. In August, Rutledge announced the arrest of former Preferred Family Healthcare Director of Billing, Helen Balding, for similar actions. In October, Rutledge announced the arrest of Vicki Chisam who is accused of being an accomplice to Raveendran, Balding and other individuals known and unknown to the Office of the Attorney General.
The Attorney General’s office was assisted in this investigation by the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General and will be prosecuted in cooperation with 6th Judicial Prosecutor Larry Jegley.
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.