Raveen­dran pleads guilty to brib­ing Hutchin­son

The Saline Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By Sarah Perry [email protected]­ton­courier.com

A for­mer char­ity ex­ec­u­tive pleaded guilty Wed­nes­day in the Western District of Mis­souri and ad­mit­ted to brib­ing ex-arkansas Sen. Jeremy Hutchin­son.

Robin Raveen­dran was charged with con­spir­acy to com­mit fed­eral fraud af­ter he paid Hutchin­son funds from Pre­ferred Fam­ily Health­care, a Mis­souri non­profit.

The char­ity pro­vides “a va­ri­ety of ser­vices to in­di­vid­u­als in Mis­souri and Arkansas, in­clud­ing men­tal and behavioral health treat­ment and coun­sel­ing, sub­stance abuse treat­ment and coun­sel­ing, em­ploy­ment as­sis­tance, aid to in­di­vid­u­als with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties and med­i­cal ser­vices,” ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments.

Raveen­dran worked for the char­ity from 2014 un­til 2017. Dur­ing this time, he served as ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent, di­rec­tor of oper­a­tions and an­a­lyst.

Prior to his work for the char­ity, Raveen­dran was em­ployed by the state of Arkansas as di­rec­tor of pro­gram in­tegrity for the Arkansas Depart­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices and busi­ness oper­a­tions man­ager with the Of­fice of the Med­i­caid In­spec­tor Gen­eral.

Raveen­dran, along with Hutchin­son and Mil­ton Russell “Rusty” Crans­ford, cre­ated a pri­vate as­so­ci­a­tion, Al­liance for Health Im­prove­ment, in 2014 to “advocate for is­sues rel­e­vant to health care providers at the Arkansas state leg­is­la­ture and in state de­part­ments,” ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments.

Raveen­dran’s charge and sub­se­quent plea stem from his in­ter­ac­tion with Hutchin­son through the char­ity, PFH, and the al­liance.

Raveen­dran di­rected funds from the al­liance to Hutchin­son in ex­change for Hutchin­son “agree­ing to take and tak­ing leg­isla­tive and of­fi­cial ac­tion fa­vor­able to the char­ity,” ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments.

In to­tal, Raveen­dran paid Hutchin­son — or the Hutchin­son Law Firm — $35,625.

Hutchin­son also re­port­edly agreed to take and did take fa­vor­able leg­isla­tive and of­fi­cial ac­tion on be­half of the char­ity, in­clud­ing “hold­ing up agency bud­gets’ ini­ti­at­ing leg­isla­tive au­dits; spon­sor­ing, fil­ing and vot­ing for leg­is­la­tion, in­clud­ing shell bills; and pres­sur­ing and ad­vis­ing other pub­lic of­fi­cials to per­form ac­tion on be­half of the char­ity,” ac­cord­ing to the charge in­for­ma­tion.

Also included in the court records

was an email writ­ten by Raveen­dran re­quest­ing from Hutchin­son — “shell bill to take care of this is­sue.”

The email stems from the definition­s of “in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tor” and “em­ployee” in Arkansas.

Days af­ter the email, Hutchin­son filed the shell bill Se­nate Bill 932.

The bill re­port­edly “con­tained statu­tory lan­guage ad­van­ta­geous to the providers like the char­ity and other mem­bers of Al­liance, sim­i­lar to that pro­posed by Raveen­dran,” ac­cord­ing to court records.

In con­nec­tion with his plea, Raveen­dran faces up to five years in fed­eral prison, three

years of su­per­vised re­lease, a fine of $250,000 and manda­tory resti­tu­tion, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments.

U.S. Mag­is­trate Judge David Rush ac­cepted Raveen­dran’s plea and re­leased him with­out bail, pend­ing sen­tenc­ing.

Along with this fed­eral charge in Mis­souri, Raveen­dran is fac­ing charges in Arkansas.

Hutchin­son is fac­ing charges in both Mis­souri and Arkansas.

He rep­re­sented Saline County con­stituents in District 33 and served in the Arkansas Se­nate from 2011 to 2018. He was also pre­vi­ously elected to serve in the state House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in 2000. Hutchin­son sub­mit­ted a res­ig­na­tion let­ter to Gov. Asa Hutchin­son — his uncle — shortly af­ter his in­dict­ment on charges in Arkansas.



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