Raveendran pleads guilty to bribing Hutchinson
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.