AG issues additional charges for New Beginnings owner
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced Thursday an additional and related charge against the owner and CEO of New Beginnings Behavioral Health Services LLC, Chirie Bazzelle.
Bazzelle, 46, of Benton, is accused of giving a false statement to the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit during the course of an investigation.
During a June 2018 interview, Bazzelle stated that she had no prior knowledge of a letter sent by then-state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson on behalf of New Beginnings Behavioral Health Services to the Department of Human Services Division of Behavioral Health requesting she be allowed to operate in Cleveland County. Email documentation proves that Bazzelle reviewed the letter and sent edits to the letter prior to its submission.
In April, Bazzelle was arrested for failing to report contracts with Milton “Rusty” Cranford, Robin Raveendran, and her former husband, Michael Grimes, who is a convicted felon.
She was also accused of continuing the employment of individuals who had been convicted of Medicaid fraud and ignoring additional Medicaid fraud claims of other employees.
Bazzelle has been listed as the sole owner of New Beginnings Behavioral Health Services in Pulaski County since 2010. Bazzelle was also accused of attempting to evade taxes from January 2014 through February 2019.
“Criminals who steal from Arkansans and lie during investigations must be held accountable,” Rutledge said.
In June 2018, Rutledge
announced the arrest of Raveendran, former Preferred Family Healthcare director of program integrity and director of operations for scamming the Arkansas Medicaid Program of $2.2 million.
Raveendran is also a former senior auditor with Arkansas’s Medicaid Program Integrity Unit.
In August, Rutledge announced the arrest of former Preferred Family Healthcare Director of Billing Helen Balding for similar actions.
In October, Rutledge announced the arrest
of Vicki Chisam, who is accused of being an accomplice to Raveendran, Balding and other individuals known and unknown to the office of the Attorney General.
The office of the Medicaid inspector general assisted the Rutledge’s office in this investigation, which will be prosecuted in cooperation with 6th Judicial Prosecutor Larry Jegley.
Medicaid fraud occurs when providers use the Medicaid program to obtain money to which they are not entitled. To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at 866-810-0016 or [email protected]