former CEO of SEMO health network pleads guilty to submitting false grant documents
St. Louis, MO – CHERYL ANN WHITE pled guilty to conspiring to create and submit numerous false documents related to Southeast Missouri Health Network, Inc. to federal agencies from 2004 to 2013.
According to court documents, Southeast Missouri Health Network, Inc. (SEMO), is a non-profit, federally qualified health center (FQHC), which provides health services in six counties in southeast Missouri. SEMO had administrative offices and medical, dental and fitness centers in Benton, Bernie, Kennett, Matthews, New Madrid, Portageville, Senath and Sikeston, Missouri.
White was the chief executive officer of SEMO and a non-voting member of the board of directors until December 2013. Her duties included preparing or supervising the preparation of applications for operational and construction grants to be submitted to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), administering the grants and insuring that the grant funds were expended as required by the grants and preparing and submitting required reports to HHS and other regulatory agencies.
With her plea, White admitted that SEMO submitted annual grant reports for 2008 through 2012 and as many as 40 grant applications, which contained false information, including information about the number of patients needing services and the number of services provided by SEMO. White also admitted to using SEMO funds to pay for a roof on a building she owned; selling another building and a trailer to SEMO while concealing her ownership; using SEMO funds to purchase personal gifts for a relative and some of her co-conspirators; and issuing checks to SEMO employees, who then gave the cash to her. White also admitted to giving information to a co-conspirator, who was then awarded, contrary to federal regulations, the contract to construct the clinic in Bernie, Missouri; repeatedly awarding contracts to the same co-conspirator although seven SEMO buildings he constructed or renovated had leaking roofs or cracked slabs; and receiving payments from the co-conspirator, later disguised as a loan. White also admitted to falsely certifying that an engineering company had determined the Bernie clinic was constructed in compliance with the grant requirements; falsely certifying that SEMO spent $110,000 for two floor–mounted x-ray machines and $40,000 for a digital imaging system, when the equipment was never purchased.
White, New Madrid, Missouri, pled guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to submit false documents before United States District Judge Carol E. Jackson Monday, in St. Louis. Sentencing has been set for July 30, 2014.
She now faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
This case was investigated by the Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigations, and the Office of Audit of the U.S. Health and Human Services and the FBI. Assistant United States Attorney Dorothy McMurtry is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney's Office.