Rutledge Announces Arrest of Former Director of Billing at Preferred Family Health for Medicaid FraudTue, Aug 21, 2018
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the arrest of the former Director of Billing at Preferred Family Health.
Helen Balding, 47, of New Braunfels, Texas, formerly of Fayetteville, is accused of making false statements knowingly causing the Arkansas Medicaid Program to overpay Preferred Family Health from January 2015 to October 2017, totaling about $2.2 million. Following an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, Balding turned herself in to the Independence County Sheriff’s Department. She is charged with two counts of Medicaid Fraud, Class A and Class B felonies.
In June, Rutledge announced the arrest of former Preferred Family Health Director of Program Integrity and Director of Operations, Robin Raveendran, of Little Rock, for scamming the Arkansas Medicaid Program of $2.2 million during the same timeframe. Raveendran is also a former Senior Auditor with Arkansas’s Medicaid Program Integrity Unit. Balding is accused of being an accomplice to Raveendran and other individuals known and unknown to the Office of the Attorney General.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rutledge Announces Trial Victory Over Northwest Arkansas Used Auto DealerFri, Aug 17, 2018
Says, ‘Used car dealers must deliver title according to the law’
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza has found northwest Arkansas auto dealer John Vancuren, and his wife Michelle Vancuren, as well as their companies, Infinity Auto Sales, Inc., Infinity Towing and Recovery, Inc. and Vancurens Auto Sales, Inc. liable for 59 violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Judge Piazza ordered the Vancurens and their companies liable for $590,000 in civil penalties, $73,001.71 in restitution, and he enjoined the Vancurens from engaging in the business of used car sales.
“I applaud Judge Piazza’s ruling on behalf of the brave men and women who testified and stood up to John and Michelle Vancuren in Court,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Used car dealers must deliver title according to the law. These types of deceitful actions by an Arkansas business, which harm consumers and the overall business community, must be met with strong consequences.”
The five-day bench trial had 26 witnesses testifying the Vancurens failed to deliver title to their cars, failed to satisfy prior liens on the vehicles and they otherwise failed to return money rightfully belonging to consumers.
According to the complaint filed December 2016, the Vancurens routinely submitted a customer’s loan application to a third-party lender, and, if approved, the lender deposited the loan into the Vancurens’ bank account, leaving them with a lump sum of the loan proceeds and the borrower with the obligation to repay the lender. In several cases, however, the customer returned the purchased vehicle due to mechanical issues, and the Vancurens failed to return the loan proceeds, leaving the customer with a debt to pay and no vehicle. In other cases, the Vancurens convinced the consumer to purchase another vehicle with financing from a different third-party lender, but the Vancurens failed to refund the original loan proceeds, leaving the consumer with two loans on two different vehicles, but only one vehicle in possession.
Many consumer complaints have been received at the Attorney General’s office in response to the negative business practices of the Vancurens. One Arkansan described a June 2013 purchase of a Ford truck for which his sister co-signed. The consumer returned the truck to the lot six weeks after purchase because of mechanical issues. John Vancuren promised the consumer that his loan with Westlake had been paid off. Three years later, however, the consumer’s sister learned through a separate credit application that her credit report showed 24 months of late payments to Westlake for the truck. The Vancurens’ failure to pay off the transaction as promised resulted in a ruined credit history for the consumer and his sister, who has been unable to purchase a new car for her growing family.
A Spanish-speaking consumer purchased a Honda Civic from the Vancurens in August 2013. In September 2014, John Vancuren arranged to meet the consumer and her son, who spoke some English, at the dealership. Knowing that the consumer was not fluent in English, Vancuren took the consumer’s son inside and slipped out the back door to present the Spanish-speaking consumer with a document stating she “returned the car to the dealer instead of paying the balance on the car.” He told her if she would sign it, he would give her a $5,900 check for the equity in the car. The check never arrived, and the consumer was left without a car.
Victims of these business practices should contact the Attorney General’s office to file a consumer complaint at (800) 482-8982 or go to ArkansasAG.gov.
Rutledge Praises FDA for Action Against Unwashed Poppy SeedsWed, Aug 15, 2018
Says, ‘This is an important first step to protecting consumers from reckless business practices’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released the statement below following the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) issuance of a warning letter to one online poppy seed seller.
“I am pleased the FDA is taking steps to protect consumers from the hidden dangers of unwashed poppy seeds,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Its letter identifies one company’s continued claims that unwashed poppy seeds provide similar benefits to pharmaceutical drugs, without any approval from the FDA, which is a violation of the law. This is an important first step to protecting consumers from reckless business practices, by addressing a company that markets washed, unwashed and unprocessed poppy seeds for medicinal uses not approved by the FDA.”
Earlier this month, Rutledge sent a letter to the FDA requesting clear label standards for unwashed poppy seeds. In early July, Rutledge sent a letter to a number of online retailers requesting the removal of unwashed poppy seeds from online products, and a couple of weeks later Bonanza, eBay and Etsy removed labeled unwashed poppy seeds from their online catalogs. Walmart had previously removed its supply. Earlier this year, Attorney General Rutledge released an Attorney General Alert warning consumers of the dangers of unwashed poppy seeds after meeting with the Hacalas to hear the tragic story of their son, Stephen, who died from morphine intoxication after consuming so-called poppy seed tea made from unwashed poppy seeds.
Dr. Stephen Erickson, a Forensic Pathologist at the Arkansas State Crime Lab, partnered with forensic toxicologist Dr. Madeline Swartwood, to conduct a study that found that one particular bag of unwashed poppy seeds contained enough morphine to nearly fill a bottle of 100, 30-milligram morphine pills – an amount comparable to what is prescribed to a palliative bone cancer patient.
Rutledge Welcomes Agriculture Technology & the Law Summit Participants to Little RockWed, Aug 15, 2018
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today made her first public appearance since giving birth to her daughter to welcome participants to the Agriculture Technology & the Law Summit: Advancing American Agriculture at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. The educational event was created in partnership with the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) and the National Agricultural Law Center, to bring together public and private legal experts and agriculture industry representatives to address unique legal and policy questions.
“When I became co-chair of NAAG’s Agriculture Committee three years ago, I envisioned Arkansas hosting a first-rate legal education program for state Attorneys General staff, state regulatory staff and others focused on agricultural law,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Today we welcome agriculture leaders and attorneys from nearly 30 states, a testament to how important agriculture is to the foundation of our great country.“
Forums over the two-day event will include discussions on big data, unmanned vehicles, biotechnology, global theft of intellectual properties, pesticide regulation, rural broadband and more. Summit attendees will receive 12 hours of general Continuing Legal Education credit including 2 hours of Ethic/Professional Education credit in Arkansas.
Rutledge Supports Effort to End Taxpayer Funding of Planned Parenthood in OhioMon, Aug 13, 2018
Says, ‘It is important that we stand together to protect the lives of the unborn’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined a coalition of 15 states in filing an amicus brief in support of the state of Ohio, defending that state’s lawful decision to end the use of taxpayer dollars to fund Planned Parenthood.
“I am proud to support Ohio’s decision to join Arkansas in stopping Medicaid dollars from funding Planned Parenthood,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is important that we stand together to protect the lives of the unborn and ensure that no taxpayer dollars fund abortions.”
Arkansas joined the brief, led by Michigan, with Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Rutledge Leads Additional Multistate Brief in Nebraska Execution Drug CaseFri, Aug 10, 2018
Says, ‘I will continue to fight for justice and support my colleagues against these meritless arguments’
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge led an additional coalition of fourteen states in filing an amicus brief in support of the State of Nebraska, arguing the courts should put an end to the recent phenomenon of pharmaceutical companies bringing meritless lawsuits designed to prevent states from carrying out lawful executions. This is the second multistate brief Rutledge has led in the past week arguing against such meritless lawsuits.
“Pharmaceutical companies are trying to circumvent the rule of law by using eleventh-hour litigation tactics to stall these lawful executions,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As Arkansas’s chief law enforcement officer it is my duty to ensure the families of victims have justice. The Arkansas Supreme Court did not cave to the pressure from anti-death-penalty advocates. I will continue to fight for justice and support my colleagues against these meritless arguments in states like Nevada and Nebraska, where drug companies have asked courts to halt lawful executions.”
Arkansas is joined in the amicus brief by Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.