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Former Jasper County administrator charged with fraud

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Rita Hunter, the former public administrator of Jasper County, yesterday was charged for a nearly $200,000 fraud scheme.

Hunter, 59, of Joplin, was charged in a 12-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield, according to a news release from the office of the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

According to the indictment, Hunter, who served as public administrator from Jan. 1, 2005-Dec. 31, 2008, allegedly committed health care fraud, theft of public money, Social Security fraud, Medicaid fraud and document fraud.

The indictment points to 14 wards, primarily mentally disabled or indigent persons designated by the circuit court to be under the care and custody of the public administrator, who serves as guardian. The wards allegedly received $196,597 in Medicaid and Social Security benefits, which were illegally funneled to the public administrator's office, according to the release.

Hunter allegedly directed her employees to submit Medicaid applications that falsely stated the wards had assets below the $1,000 threshold for Medicaid eligibility.

Hunter allegedly used the Medicaid money to fund roughly $121,099 in unrelated public administrator payments, including administration fees, attorney fees, tax preparation fees and court fees, according to the release.

The indictment also claims Hunter misused Social Security payments toward the benefit of her office, $59,597 in unrelated public administrator fees and $15,901 in attorney fees.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Eggert and was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Social Security Administration, the FBI, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Missouri Department of Social Services Legal Investigation Section.[[In-content Ad]]

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