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Firm paying $8M to Arkansas, feds over corruption probe

March 31, 2022 GMT

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri nonprofit that was at the center of a corruption probe that involved several legislators is paying more than $8 million to the federal government and the state of Arkansas under an agreement with prosecutors announced Thursday.

Federal prosecutors announced the non-prosecution agreement with Preferred Family Healthcare, which agreed to forfeit more than $6.9 million to the federal government and pay more than $1.1 million in restitution to Arkansas.

The Missouri-based mental health care provider operated 50 clinics throughout Arkansas until October 2018 and no longer operates in the state. Prosecutors on Thursday said under the agreement, PFH admitted that its former officers and employees conspired to embezzle funds from the charity and bribe Arkansas legislators.

Several former executives from the charity, former Arkansas legislators and other have pleaded guilty in federal court as part of the corruption probe.

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A lobbyist pleaded guilty in 2019 to bribing three Arkansas lawmakers, including the governor’s nephew, to benefit PFH. The lobbyist, Rusty Cranford, was sentenced to seven years in prison and in August was released to serve the remainder of his sentence from home.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge in 2020 announced the firm had reached $6.5 million in federal and state settlements following an investigation by Rutledge’s office into false Medicaid claims made by former PFH employees.