Continuance in Medicaid fraud case pushes case review hearing to October 7
According to information from the Pulaski County Circuit Court, the inevitable prosecution of former Bentonville businessman and current Eureka Spring nightclub owner Anthony Christopher for Medicaid Fraud and Identity Theft has been delayed...yet again.
The case hearing review--a court procedure that involves the state presenting all their facts in a case before proceeding to trial--has once again been postponed. The court review has now been moved to October 7 at 8 a.m.
The prosecution by the state of Arkansas stems from business practices at Absolute Pediatric Therapy for about a two and a half year period before Christopher allegedly sold the business to a former employee.
This is the second time a court hearing review has been continued in the case.
Originally filed on February 5 of this year, the charges against Christopher include fraudulent billing for therapy services never rendered, listing therapists for services they never provided, requesting referrals and prescriptions that were medically unnecessary, billing for procedures before receiving proper referrals, altering bills that were presented to Medicaid and requesting referrals for children before they saw a physician or a therapist.
A spokesperson for the Arkansas Attorney general Office on Wednesday said they were unaware of the latest continuance in the case, which will still be prosecuted.
"I don't know if this is Covid-19 related, but the courts have been notoriously slow in these types of cases", Amanda Priest, Arkansas AG public information officer, replied in an email.
In all, the state claims Christopher defrauded the Arkansas Medicaid program of at least $38,012 for services that were not provided or that were medically unnecessary from Aug. 1, 2017, to Feb. 7, 2019. He faces three Class D and One Class A felony charges.
Information in the Arkansas Democrat -Gazette at the time the arrest warrant was issued stated:
"...the clinic submitted claims to the Medicaid program for services that therapists told investigators they did not provide.
The clinic also billed for psychotherapy by a doctor who said he does not provide psychotherapy and has never worked as a therapist for the clinic.
The clinic also back-dated referrals from doctors, making it appear that the referrals had been signed before the clinic began providing services, and altered a physician's referral to add services the physician had not ordered".
At the time, Christopher was also identified in the newspaper as director of New Beginnings Children's Home, an emergency long-term residence for foster children. Absolute Pediatric Therapy was the "exclusive therapy provider" to New Beginning.
Two doctors offices that evaluated children from New Beginning also expressed concerns about the referrals from Christopher's clinic.
In another twist, Today in Fort Smith reported this week that Christopher's mother. Wanda Eash, is listed as the registered agent with the Arkansas Secretary of State of the Legacy Preparatory School in Bentonville, which also made several referrals to Absolute Pediatric Therapy. On more that once occasion, Christopher has been identified as part of the "Legacy Family" in marketing and social media information for the school.
Eash is also listed as the registered agent for Eureka Live, a nightclub in Eureka Springs that Christopher is involved in and has been identified as the club owner. The club recently announced they would start hosting "family friendly" drag queen shows in September so children could attend.