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Former PFH exec pleads guilty to bribery

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A former Preferred Family Healthcare executive, who was central to the nonprofit’s advocacy efforts in Arkansas, pleaded guilty to his role in a bribery conspiracy.

Robin Raveendran, 63, of Little Rock, Arkansas, admitted to working with others to bribe former Natural State Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson in exchange for legislation and influence favoring PFH, according to a news release from the office of Tim Garrison, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

Raveendran served as director of operations, executive vice president and analyst for PFH from 2014-17. The nonprofit exited Arkansas last year due, in part, to Raveendran being charged with Medicaid fraud in a separate case, Springfield Business Journal previously reported.

In the guilty plea announced yesterday, Raveendran admitted to directing funds from a lobbyist group he co-founded, called Alliance for Health Care, to Hutchison. The state senator was charged in April in a 32-count embezzlement and public corruption indictment, along with former PFH Chief Operating Officer Bontiea Goss and Chief Financial Officer Tom Goss.

Hutchison, according to Garrison’s office, held up agency budgets, conducted legislative audits, sponsored and voted for legislation, and pressured and advised other public officials to act on behalf of the nonprofit.

Raveendran also admitted in his guilty plea that he and others concealed evidence of the bribes to Hutchison by falsely describing the payments as attorney’s fees and legal retainers, according to the release.

Under federal statutes, Raveendran could face up to five years in prison without parole. The terms of Raveendran’s guilty plea require him to pay $25,000 in restitution to the government.

PFH was formed through the 2015 merger of Alternative Opportunities in Springfield and Preferred Family Healthcare in Kirksville. The nonprofit provides community services for individuals with developmental disabilities, child welfare, employment services and behavioral health, according to past SBJ reporting.

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