TED SUHL

Ted Suhl has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review his federal bribery conviction for giving money to Steven Jones, a former legislator and official of the state Human Services Department, which oversaw millions in Medicaid reimbursements to his in-patient and out-patient businesses working with troubled youth.

Also today: talk about a similar recent case involving abuse of the Medicaid program.

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Suhl was convicted in federal court in  Little Rock in July 2016  and the conviction was upheld by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in March.

In a petition filed last week, Suhl’s attorney challenges Judge Billy Roy Wilson’s jury instructions. Suhl’s jury was told it could consider whether he’d had a general intent to influence the state official, but not that he gave money for a particular official act.

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Suhl’s attorney, Kannon K. Shanmugam of Williams & Connolly in Washington, argues that the statutes under which he was sentenced require a quid pro quo exchange. He also argues that the decision in Suhl’s case differs from decisions in other circuit courts and by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here’s the petition. The government has 30 days to respond.

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Suhl is serving a seven-year sentence in Springfield, Mo.  His companies, Trinity Behavioral and Maxus, were effectively put out of business in October 2014 when Arkansas suspended them from the Medicaid program after allegations of bribery of Jones surfaced. Jones has completed a prison term in the case.

By contrast, an unrelated healthcare provider, Preferred Family Healthcare continues to do tens of millions in Medicaid business with Arkansas despite the recent federal guilty pleas or convictions of four legislators for schemes involving the organization and the government’s allegation of bribery against another legislator not yet charged.

Reports continue to circulate of possible negotiations between the government and the attorney for Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson over charges stemming from some $500,000 paid to him by Preferred Family Healthcare. Though he hasn’t been charged, a guilty plea entered by a former executive and lobbyist characterizes the money paid Hutchinson as bribes to help with legislation. Hutchinson has insisted through his attorney that the money was legitimate pay for attorney services. His attorney declined to comment when I inquired last week about reports of negotiations.

Preferred Family has said it has cleaned house since the scandal broke, though current employees include people who were working there when the crimes took place. Its spokesman has declared the company a victim of illegal acts by others. A byproduct of the bribery schemes was a state law that provided a reimbursement policy for Medicaid services said to be advantageous to PFH. It remains in place and there’s been no repayment of money funneled from the state General Improvement Fund with the help of bribed legislators.

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