Rutledge Settles First State Civil False Claims Lawsuit in 15 YearsTue, Apr 12, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has settled a lawsuit against Step by Step Senior Care Inc., an Arkansas home health care company. Rutledge filed the lawsuit last summer against the company and its then-operators, Breon Harmon and Clarise Tatum, marking the first false claims lawsuit filed under the state’s false claims act in 15 years. The settlement includes a civil penalty of $239,788.58, which is the largest known civil penalty against an Arkansas home health care company in the history of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
“As Arkansas’s chief legal officer, I am committed to using all means necessary to hold not just individuals but also companies accountable for Medicaid fraud,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I filed this lawsuit so that Step by Step Senior Care Inc. and its owners would be held accountable for their deception. Today’s settlement should also alert other health care companies that fraudulent actions are a serious offense which I will fully investigate and take legal action if necessary.”
Today’s settlement provides that Step by Step Senior Care Inc. will repay the Arkansas Medicaid Program Trust Fund the $479,577.16 that was questioned in an audit conducted by the Office of Medicaid Inspector General and a negotiated civil penalty of $239,788.58, for a total of $719,365.74. The total will be reduced by $6,838.08 that has already been collected from Dawna Kincade. The settlement also allows greater monitoring of Step by Step Senior Care Inc. in the future and prohibits Harmon and Tatum from working with the company for five years.
In June 2014, the Office of Medicaid Inspector General conducted an audit of Step by Step Senior Care Inc. The audit found evidence of fraud and many questionable billing practices. In March 2015, the audit was referred to the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit where a subsequent investigation resulted in criminal charges being filed against Kincade, a Step by Step employee.
On Feb. 25, 2015, Kincade of Little Rock entered a guilty plea on one count of Medicaid fraud, a Class B felony. She falsified billing documents for a Medicaid recipient. The case was prosecuted by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in cooperation with 6th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley. Kincade paid $6,838.08 in restitution to the Arkansas Medicaid Program Trust Fund prior to entry of her guilty plea. She was then sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay court costs and a $7,500 fine payable to the general revenue fund.
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.
Rutledge Announces Medicaid Fraud Arrest of Clark County ManMon, Apr 11, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the arrest of a Clark County man by the Clark County Sheriff’s Department in cooperation with the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
Rodney Brothers Jr., 42, of Arkadelphia, was arrested on one count of abuse of an endangered or impaired person. Brothers is currently being held in the Clark County Jail awaiting arraignment. He is accused of assaulting a resident of the Arkadelphia Human Development Center, a Class D felony.
The Attorney General’s office conducted the investigation in cooperation with the Prosecuting Attorney of the 9th-East Judicial District, Blake Batson.
Medicaid fraud occurs when Medicaid 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, call the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016.
Rutledge Hosts Youth SummitTue, Apr 5, 2016
ALMA – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge hosted a Youth Summit today for seventh through 12th graders, raising awareness of dating violence. The summit comes after Rutledge hosted five Break the Cycle trainings across the State for educators who were taught the foundational knowledge about dating abuse and methods for intervention. The Summit was held today at the Alma Airedale Arena.
This year’s Youth Summit is the largest ever Attorney General sponsored event, with more than 2,100 students attending.
“Raising awareness of dating violence is a major priority of mine,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This interactive and informative event’s message was directed to junior high and high school students to help them understand the dangers and consequences of dating violence and how to have healthy relationships.”
Former college football standout and NFL player Keith Davis was the featured speaker with his “Just Say YES: Youth Equipped to Succeed” message. Davis, an entrepreneur and motivational speaker, graduated from the University of Southern California with his football team’s highest grade point average and a degree in business finance. He was the team’s leading tackler, selected to the All-American Strength Team, an All-Conference player and played in the Rose Bowl. After college, Davis signed with the New York Giants.
Other speakers included Angela McGraw, executive director for Women & Children First in Central Arkansas, and Kiah McGraw, the state advocate coordinator for the Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Partners with the Attorney General’s office in hosting the event are Arkansas Activities Association, Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Child Advocacy Centers of Arkansas.
Rutledge Urges the EPA Not to Penalize Race Car IndustryTue, Apr 5, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined other attorneys generals, calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to remove language from a proposed rule that conflicts with the intent of Congress under the Clean Air Act and if allowed to go forward would have harmful economic consequences.
As proposed, the rule for greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy-duty engines and vehicles expands the EPA’s statutory jurisdiction under the Clean Air Act to cover vehicles modified solely for racing or competition.
“Congress has made it clear that vehicles used for racing purposes are not regulated under the Clean Air Act,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Instead of following the law, the EPA is driving ahead with a proposed 629-page rule that again bypasses Congressional authority. I join my colleagues in urging the EPA to re-evaluate this rule to ensure it falls within the scope of the law.”
Contained in the draft is language that includes the phrase “used solely for competition,” which would reverse a longstanding practice of the EPA not to regulate this industry.
As the attorneys general point out in the letter to Administrator Gina McCarthy, “In 2014, consumers spent $36 billion on automotive specialty equipment parts and accessories. All over the U.S., manufactures, retailers and technicians represent tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars. This proposed rule would purport to make many of the products made, sold and installed by those businesses illegal, dealing a heavy blow to our economy.
“While the federal Clean Air Act prohibits certain modifications to everyday motor vehicles used on public roads, statutory language and the EPA’s historic practice have made it clear that vehicles built or modified for racing purposes, and not used on public streets, are not regulated under the Clean Act,” the attorneys general concluded.
In addition to Rutledge, attorneys general from Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio and West Virginia signed the letter.
Rutledge Issues Urgent Warning About IRS Phone ScamTue, Apr 5, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today issued an urgent warning to Arkansans after her office received a large number of calls, reporting scam artists are posing as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) demanding payment immediately and threatening arrest if payment is not received.
“The IRS is never going to call you unsolicited,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The IRS will send you letter on top of letter. This is a common scam that is hitting more and more Arkansans the closer it gets to tax day.”
Rutledge says that these con artists are now using robocalls, which allows them to reach a higher number of consumers, while purporting to be the IRS.
Arkansans need to remember the IRS will never call and demand payment, require taxes be paid in a certain way, ask for credit or debit card numbers or threaten to bring police or other agencies to make an arrest for unpaid taxes.
The IRS strongly recommends Arkansans who receive these threatening calls not give out any personal information and hang up immediately, contact the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484 to report the call and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. The agency also requests that any scam emails be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The IRS encourages Arkansans with any questions about owed taxes to contact their office directly at (800) 829-1040.
For more information about other common scams and consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.
Rutledge Settles Claims Against Two Bogus Cancer CharitiesFri, Apr 1, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, along with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and agencies from 49 other states, have obtained a permanent injunction to dissolve two nationwide fake cancer charities and ban their leadership from profiting from any charity fundraising in the future.
“Thousands of Arkansans give to charitable causes each year,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Sadly, scammers like Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services and their leadership deprive legitimate charities of the support they desperately need, and that is why I am proud that this action, along with the settlement announced last May, shuts down these bogus charities and places a lifetime ban on their leadership from working with or for other nonprofits. Arkansans deserve honesty, and I am going to hold those accountable who lie and cheat.”
Cancer Fund of America Inc. (CFA), Cancer Support Services Inc. (CSS) and their leader, James Reynolds Sr., agreed to settle accusations that CFA and CSS claimed to help cancer patients, but they spent the overwhelming majority of donations on their operators, families and friends, and fundraisers.
Under the terms of the settlement, CFA and CSS will be permanently closed and their assets liquidated. Reynolds is banned from profiting from charity fundraising and nonprofit work and from serving as a charity’s director or trustee or otherwise managing charitable assets. He is also prohibited from making misrepresentations about goods or services and violating the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule and State laws.
The order imposes a judgment against CFA, CSS and Reynolds, jointly and severally, of $75,825,653, the amount consumers donated to CFA and CSS between 2008 and 2012. The judgment against CFA and CSS will be partially satisfied via liquidation of their assets. The judgment against Reynolds will be suspended upon surrender of certain artwork, two pistols and sale of a pontoon boat. The full judgment will become due immediately if he is found to have misrepresented his financial condition.
The other defendants in the case were CFA’s and CSS’s chief financial officer; CSS’s former president, Kyle Effler; Children’s Cancer Fund of America Inc. (CCFOA) and its president and executive director, Rose Perkins; and The Breast Cancer Society Inc. (BCS) and its executive director and former president, James Reynolds II. Under settlement orders, Effler, Perkins and Reynolds II are also banned from fundraising, charity management and oversight of charitable assets, and CCFOA and BCS are in receivership and will be dissolved after their assets are liquidated.
The complaint, filed in May 2015, targeted four sham charities run by Reynolds and his family members that allegedly schemed more than $187 million from unsuspecting donors. CFA and CSS were responsible for more than $75 million of that amount. The other two sham charities settled in May 2015 with Rutledge and others. The settlement announced today concludes the largest joint enforcement action ever undertaken by the FTC and state charity regulators.
Whatever the donation, Arkansans should do their research before donating to make sure the charitable contributions are assisting those intended. To find out more about a specific charity please visit the Attorney General’s charities database.