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2018 Year In Review: 3. Preferred Family Healthcare faces criminal charges, exits Arkansas

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SPRINGFIELD and ARKANSAS—Entering 2018, Springfield-based Preferred Family Healthcare Inc. executives found themselves facing criminal charges – a reoccurring circumstance for the nonprofit organization throughout much of the year.

In February, former Arkansas state Rep. Eddie Cooper pleaded guilty to his role in a $4 million embezzlement scheme related to illegal political kickbacks involving PFH. Cooper’s plea was preceded by a December 2017 guilty plea by Philadelphia political consultant Donald Andrew Jones, aka D.A. Jones. In June, Milton, aka Rusty, Cranford, of Rogers, Arkansas, pleaded guilty to bribing Arkansas officials in order to increase PFH revenue.
 
Three PFH executives – CEO Marilyn Nolan, Chief Operating Officer Bontiea Goss and her husband and Chief Financial Officer Tom Goss – were fired in January after their C-level roles were implicated by prosecutors. Nolan pleaded guilty in November to participating in the political corruption scheme. The Gosses have not been charged.

Two other former PFH employees, Robin Raveendran, of Little Rock, Arkansas, and Helen Balding, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, were charged in June with Medicaid fraud. Raveendran allegedly scammed the Arkansas Medicaid program of $2.2 million, with Balding identified by the state attorney’s office as an accomplice. After Raveendran was charged, the Arkansas Department of Human Services terminated its contracts with PFH.

In addition, former PFH Chief Clinical Officer Keith Noble pleaded guilty in September to concealing a felony in connection with the embezzlement scheme.

Outside of the courtroom, PFH officials in April notified nonprofits Court Appointed Special Advocates of Southwest Missouri, Girls on the Run of Southwest Missouri and The Doula Foundation of Mid-America Inc. that they would have to vacate their previous rent-free accommodations in PFH’s headquarters at the Eleven Eleven building on South Glenstone Avenue.

CASA and Girls on the Run have since moved to other locations, while The Doula Foundation remains in the building. PFH officials said two other tenants, attorney Dave Davis and Christian Radio Springfield, are fulfilling their leases. Officials haven’t indicated how they intend to use the extra space at the 37,600-square-foot building.

By October, PFH ceased operations in Arkansas, and its assets and property in the state were acquired for an undisclosed amount by Hot Springs, Arkansas-based substance-abuse rehabilitation and behavioral health company Quapaw House Inc.

PFH officials have said the organization plans to continue operations, which include 16 residential substance abuse disorder programs and numerous outpatient sites in Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Illinois.

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