AG is­sues ad­di­tional charges for New Begin­nings owner

The Saline Courier - - FRONT PAGE - Spe­cial to The Sa­line Courier

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]


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