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February 4, 2014

MONROE, La. United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that the former Madison Parish Hospital administrator and two of its vendors were sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Robert G. James for health care fraud.  They pleaded guilty in October and November of 2013.

Charles Wendell Alford, 71, of Newellton, La., received 37 months in prison and was ordered to pay $1,383,874 restitution; Barney W.I. Hughes IV, 45, of Keller, Texas, received 12 months in prison and was ordered to pay $566,874 restitution; and Henry Russell Ham, 65, of West Monroe, La., received 14 months in prison and was ordered to pay $817,000 restitution.  All were sentenced to three years of supervised release.

According to evidence presented at the guilty plea, Alford served as hospital administrator for Madison Parish Hospital in Tallulah, La; Hughes served as owner of Tech Solutions of Keller, Texas; and Ham, served as owner of Insurance World in Monroe. Both Hughes and Ham paid Alford a combined total of more than $1.3 million in kickbacks for his approval and continuation of their business agreements. The hospital is a critical care facility that receives Medicare funds.

Madison Parish Hospital leased equipment and personnel from Tech Solutions to operate the hospital’s nuclear medicine and Ultrasound departments. At no time did Alford or Hughes disclose to the hospital’s board or Medicare that they had an exclusive agreement. From October 2006 to June 2012, the hospital paid Hughes’ company $2,029,504, and Hughes paid Alford $566,874 of that total. They submitted fraudulent cost reports to Medicare at least six times from December 2006 to 2011.

Madison Parish Hospital purchased a majority of its health insurance and life insurance products from Ham. Alford and Ham negotiated and set the insurance policy rates and Alford approved Ham’s billings as well as the hospital’s payments to Ham. From 2007 through April 2012, the hospital paid Ham $4,979,487, and Ham paid Alford $817,000 of that total. They submitted fraudulent cost reports to Medicare at least five times from December 2007 to 2011.

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, investigated the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph G. Jarzabek prosecuted the case.

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