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Preferred Family Healthcare employees accused in $1M scheme

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Preferred Family Healthcare Inc. executives were accused during court proceedings Dec. 18 of conspiracy to misuse nearly $1 million of charity funds.

Philadelphia political consultant Donald Andrew Jones, aka D.A. Jones, pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring with the four executives and another employee of PFH to spend $973,807 on illegal political activity and kickbacks, according to a news release issued by by Tom Larson, acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

None of the PFH employees were named in the court documents, but three executives specified as being from Springfield were accused of sending money to Jones in order to conceal its source. Reginald McElhannon, PFH’s executive vice president of corporate communications, said the nonprofit recently placed CEO Marilyn Nolan, Chief Financial Officer Tom Goss and his wife, Chief Operations Officer Bontiea Goss, on unpaid administrative leave.

Bontiea Goss, honored this year as one of Springfield Business Journal’s Most Influential Women, declined to comment when contacted. She directed media inquries to McElhannon, and then ended the phone call.

“PFH is cooperating fully with federal authorities, and those discussions are ongoing. At the same time, we have taken proactive actions to address issues identified by the government, including restructuring executive management and board roles,” McElhannon said in a statement sent to SBJ.

Email messages send to PFH board members were not returned by deadline.

Jones admitted he worked from 2011 through January 2017 to provide PFH illegal advocacy services, including political campaigns contributions – as well as direct contact with legislators and government officials in order to influence public officials regarding legislative issues that impacted the charity. He also solicited the assistance of officials in steering grants and other sources of funding to the charity, according to the release.

These sorts of political actions are described in court documents as being a violation of the nonprofit’s tax-exempt status.

Springfield-based PFH, which formed in the 2015 merger between local Alternative Opportunities Inc. and Kirksville’s Preferred Family Healthcare, provides mental health, substance abuse and medical treatment service, as well as employment services.

Jones also admitted to paying $264,000 in kickbacks to two other PFH employees in Arkansas. He could be sentenced to up to five years in federal prison without parole. His attorney did not respond to SBJ’s media request.

Earlier this year, Springfield accountant David Hayes pleaded guilty to embezzling $1.97 million from Alternative Opportunities, before it merged with Preferred Family Healthcare. Hayes was found dead Nov. 20 of an apparent suicide.

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