Bontiea and Tom Goss, Preferred Family Healthcare Inc.’s former chief operating officer and chief financial officer, respectively, were indicted for their roles in an embezzlement and public corruption scheme.
The Gosses, who are both 63-year-old residents of Springfield and Boulder, Colorado, and former Arkansas state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, 45, of Little Rock, were charged March 29 in a 32-count federal grand jury indictment that was unsealed yesterday, according to a news release from the office of Tim Garrison, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.
The Gosses, along with former CEO Marilyn Nolan, were fired by PFH in January after they were implicated by prosecutors in the scheme. Nolan pleaded guilty in November 2018 to participating in the political corruption scheme, following a guilty plea by former PFH Chief Clinical Officer Keith Noble and others earlier, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.
The latest indictment alleges the Gosses and Hutchinson, an attorney who was an Arkansas senator 2011-18, worked with co-conspirators in a 2005-17 conspiracy to embezzle and misapply charitable funds and to pay bribes and kickbacks to elected officials, including Hutchinson. The Gosses and co-conspirators allegedly offered the kickbacks and bribes in exchange for favorable legislation for PFH, according to the release.
The indictment also alleges the Gosses and others defrauded PFH, formerly known as Alternative Opportunities Inc., by embezzling and misapplying funds for personal expenses, including flights, loans, vehicles, and child and pet care.
The Gosses were both involved with AO before its merger with PFH in 2015. The latter name survived, with the Gosses remaining executives of the organization that provides behavioral health services, according to SBJ archives and a statement from PFH.
The statement, issued to Springfield Business Journal by PFH spokeswoman Julie Heavrin, alleges the Gosses concealed a federal investigation into AO before and after its merger with PFH.
“This investigation disclosed a pattern of improper payments and transactions designed to personally benefit Mr. and Mrs. Goss and other company officers and representatives in clear violation of their fiduciary responsibility to the organization,” the statement reads. “When the full scope of the misdeeds came to light, PFH terminated the employment of Mr. and Mrs. Goss.”
PFH also filed suit against the Gosses and others in September 2018, seeking damages for the executives’ alleged harm to the nonprofit, according to the petition provided to SBJ by Heavrin. The latest action in the case came March 27, when Tom Goss’ White Dog Properties LLC motioned to dismiss, according to Greene County Circuit Court records.
Bontiea Goss provided a statement to SBJ through her attorney, Melanie Morgan of Kansas City’s Morgan Pilate LLC.
“As with any organization of its size, she relied on others, both inside and outside the organization, who had the necessary expertise to advise and guide the organization in its many complex business decisions,” the statement reads. “Unbeknownst to Ms. Goss, certain individuals – who have since pled guilty – did not conduct themselves with honesty and integrity in their services to the organization and in their dealings with Ms. Goss.
“Ms. Goss has not knowingly or intentionally violated any law, and guilt by association is not tolerated in our system of justice.”
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