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State Rep. Ed Henry, indicted on federal fraud charges, says he is innocent

Brandon Moseley

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On Thursday, state Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle, who was a business partner with a doctor who admits his involved in a pill mill, was arrested on charges of defrauding Medicare, conspiracy, and money laundering.

Henry, following his arrest, went to Facebook to announce that he is not guilty.

“I’ve always been as open and transparent as possible,” Henry said. “For the last 8 years I have fought the government from further encroachment on our Freedoms. Today began my fight with the Federal Government for my freedom. So while I would like to lay everything on the table for all to see, that would not be wise while fighting an opponent that has endless resources like our Government. My goal was to help patients, and I did. Using a program established and promoted by Medicare, I helped chronically ill patients and saved the taxpayers’ money. For that, I have been charged with multiple Felonies. I am not guilty of any crimes.”

United States Attorney Louis V. Franklin, Sr. said that Henry, from 2015 through 2017, was an owner of a health care company, MyPractice24, Inc. (MyPractice24).

During some of that time, Henry also served as the company’s CEO.

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“MyPractice24 provided non-face-to-face chronic care management services to Medicare beneficiaries who had two or more chronic conditions,” the Office said. “The company did so pursuant to contracts into which it entered with primary care physicians. Under those contracts, the doctors would pay Henry’s company to provide these chronic care management services to the doctors’ patients, the company would provide the services, the doctors would bill Medicare for the services, and then the doctors would pay Henry’s company a share of the reimbursements received from Medicare.

“The indictment alleges that in 2016, Henry entered into an agreement with Dr. Gilberto Sanchez, a Montgomery physician who has subsequently pleaded guilty to drug distribution, health care fraud, and money laundering charges.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that under that agreement, “MyPractice24 would provide various kickbacks to Dr. Sanchez and his staff in return for the providers at Dr. Sanchez’s practice referring Medicare beneficiaries to MyPractice24 for chronic care management services.”

“Among the kickbacks provided were direct payments to a member of the staff, free chronic care management services, free medical billing services, and free clinical services unrelated to the provision of chronic care management services,” the office said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that Henry also “assisted Dr. Sanchez in paying kickbacks to patients who enrolled in the chronic care management program.”

“Dr. Sanchez paid these kickbacks by systematically waiving copays—copays which Medicare required Dr. Sanchez to collect,” The Office said.

“The indictment charges Henry with one count of conspiring to pay kickbacks and to defraud the United States,” The U.S. Attorney’s Office said. “It then alleges six counts of paying unlawful kickbacks—each count is based on a different type of kickback Henry paid to Dr. Sanchez and those who worked at Dr. Sanchez’s practice.”

“Next, the indictment charges Henry with one count of conspiring to commit health care fraud and five counts of health care fraud,” The U.S. Attorney’s Office said. “Those counts are based on Henry’s assisting Dr. Sanchez in unlawfully waiving copay obligations and then failing to report the copay waivers to Medicare.”

“Last, the indictment alleges that Henry conspired to commit money laundering,” The U.S. Attorney’s Office said. “The money laundering charge results from Henry’s using the proceeds of health care fraud to make payments to Dr. Sanchez’s staff members.”

“This case was investigated by the United States Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Tactical Diversion Squad, and the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners, the Montgomery Police Department, and the Opelika Police Department assisted in the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan S. Ross is prosecuting the case,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Dr. Sanchez pleaded guilty to drug distribution, health care fraud, and money laundering charges in 2017.

Medicare has strict rules that prevent healthcare providers and insurers from offering incentives to enter into Medicare managed care plans. These include not allowing an insurer, insurance agent, or healthcare provider from offering incentives including waiver of premiums without authorization from Medicare.

Henry was elected in the Republican wave election of 2010. Several members of that 2010 class have been subsequently indicted or entered plea deals for various offenses.

State Rep. Greg Wren, R-Montgomery, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges with the state AG’s Special Prosecutions Division that he used his office for personal gain.

State Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise, was indicted and prosecuted by state prosecutors for perjury. He was found not guilty in a jury trial.

Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, was convicted on 12 state charges of felony ethics violations.

State Rep. Oliver Robinson, D-Birmingham, pleaded guilty to federal corruption and bribery charges in an alleged conspiracy to prevent a Super Fund site in North Birmingham from being prioritized and expanded.

House Majority Leader Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges.

State Rep. Jack Williams, R-Vestavia, has been indicted on federal conspiracy charges alleging that he knew that Hammon had been corrupted by a California businessman and moved legislation through committee that Hammon wanted anyway.

Henry is the seventh member of the House to be indicted or to have taken a plea deal in the last five years.

Henry has been a vocal critic of Deputy Alabama Attorney General Matt Hart and the Special Prosecutions Division. Many legislators have been critical of the state’s ethic law and have urged that it be rewritten to give them more personal freedom to do money making deals on the side.

A joint House and Senate committee has been appointed to work on reforming, some say weakening, the ethics law after the election.

Henry is not running again for another term.

An indictment is not proof of guilt. Henry will have an opportunity to present a defense if the case moves forward.

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Elections

Ivey took more than $100,000 from same Soros-backed PACs as Maddox

Chip Brownlee

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Republican incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey’s campaign criticized her Democratic challenger, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, twice on Thursday for accepting contributions from PACs backed by liberal donor George Soros, but Ivey has accepted $100,000 from the same set of PACs over the course of her campaign for governor.

Yellowhammer News, a Birmingham-based conservative media outlet, reported early Thursday morning that Soros gave $200,000 to a group of Tuscaloosa PACs chaired by Mike Echols, a longtime donor in Tuscaloosa and state politics.

Those contributions were reported Wednesday evening in mandatory financial disclosures with the Secretary of State’s Office.

That set of chain PACs — Cash PAC, CMG PAC II, ET PAC, Leadership PAC, Pride PAC II and T-Town PAC II — have contributed more than $600,000 to Maddox’s campaign through the primary and general election season.

Ivey’s campaign publicized Yellowhammer’s story quickly after its release this morning and criticized Maddox for accepting donations from the PACs.

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“George Soros is infamous for funding extreme organizations like Moveon.org, using his fortune to support gun control groups, describing capitalism as more dangerous than communism, and touting his influence over governments,” Ivey’s campaign said in a statement. “Which begs the question: is Walt Maddox working for the people of Alabama or the radical out of state liberals bankrolling his campaign?”

A request for comment about Ivey accepting donations from the PACs has not yet been returned.

The same set of chain PACs have long been involved in Alabama political contributions on both sides of the aisle.

The PACs have donated not only to Democrats but Republican candidates like former Gov. Robert Bentley during his campaigns, former Republican Alabama Attorney General Troy King during his primary run against Republican Attorney General Steve Marshall, Republican Secretary of State John Merrill and Ivey herself.

As recently as Oct. 2, Ivey accepted a $5,000 contribution from T-Town PAC II. During the same reporting period, Maddox received a $2,000 contribution from that PAC.

Both gubernatorial candidates have accepted contributions from all six PACs to which Soros gave money. In total, Ivey accepted $103,000 from those PACs over the primary and general election season.

Ivey’s campaign again criticized Maddox as a “lying liberal” after Maddox held a press conference Thursday, during which he called on Ivey to answer questions about former ALEA Secretary Spencer Collier’s allegations that she abused her power and had a state trooper reassigned to cover up the seriousness of a 2015 hospitalization in Colorado, when she was attending a conference as lieutenant governor.

“Walt Maddox is pushing these last second lies because his half baked liberal ideas have him losing in a landslide,” the campaign said in a statement. “With less than three weeks to go, not even $200,000 from George Soros can save him.”

APR was the first to report the hospitalization and Collier’s allegations.

Maddox has accepted far more money from the PACs, amounting to $622,400 so far in the campaign.

Maddox has not yet reported any contributions since Oct. 15, when Soros’ donations were recorded in the PAC filings. The next set of weekly filings are due on Monday.

 

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Elections

Opinion | Kay Ivey’s official calendar is surprisingly empty

Josh Moon

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In late-August and early-September, there was one question dominating Alabama’s governor’s race.

Where is Kay Ivey?

The governor at that point had scarcely been seen in a few days. In one 10-day stretch, she held no public events and somehow managed to avoid even local ribbon cuttings and bridge openings. And her opponent’s campaign was raising questions about her lack of activity.

Walt Maddox, at that point, had already challenged Ivey to a series of debates. She declined, offering a number of excuses, including that she was “busy governing the state.” She had also told her Republican primary challengers that she was “too busy” to debate them.

So, I wanted to know: Who was telling the truth? Was it a big deal? Was Ivey too busy?

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There was only one way to find out: I filed an Alabama Open Records Act request for Ivey’s official calendar for a three-week span (Aug. 24 through Sept. 14).

That span, I figured, would provide a solid look into Ivey’s days and would cover all of the days that the Maddox campaign had questioned her whereabouts.

On Wednesday, after paying $17 and some change to a public entity to produce public records that the public had already paid to be produced once, APR was provided with copies of Ivey’s official calendar.

Counting every entry on the calendar for 21 days — including travel time to and from the governor’s mansion (which apparently takes 30 minutes) and air travel to a variety of meetings and ribbon cuttings — there are less than 60 hours accounted for.

That’s less than three hours per day.

But it’s actually worse than that, because most of that time is compacted into a handful of days, leaving large chunks of time — whole calendar pages — simply blank.

In total, seven days were blank. Three other days had just one entry.

In one calendar week — Sunday, Sept. 2, thru Saturday, Sept. 8 — Ivey’s calendar shows just three and a half hours of scheduled time.

That week, her days were completely blank on Sunday, Labor Day Monday and Tuesday. She had a single phone call on Wednesday and a single meeting on Thursday. She hosted the Alabama Association of Regional Councils on Friday morning and wrapped up the grueling week with a proclamation signing at 10:30 a.m. that Friday.

I’ll remind you that this is the governor — a governor in the midst of a campaign.

You would think her calendar would be crammed with events and meetings and staff scrums and trips all over the place.

But … there’s just nothing.

And that’s not normal. I know that for a fact.

I’ve been to the Alabama Archives and sorted through the official calendars for the last three governors of this state. None of their calendars look like Ivey’s. Not even close.

I shared photos on Facebook Wednesday night of entries from random days on Robert Bentley’s calendar. In some instances, his days spilled over onto a second page.

The same was true with Bob Riley. His days, like Bentley’s, seemed to be planned from morning until night. Every day. Even on the weekends.

What’s happening with Kay Ivey should raise eyebrows and a ton of questions. Mainly: Can she actually do this job?

I think that’s a fair question at this point, after the public freeze-ups, the long disappearances, the managed time by her staff, the refusal to debate, and now these nearly blank calendar days.

And then there are two other questions:

Who is running this state?

And who are you voting for?

 

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Elections

Anti-abortion group National Right to Life endorses Ivey

Brandon Moseley

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National Right to Life announced their endorsement of Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) in the Nov. 6 general election.

Ivey said she proudly accepted the endorsement from National Right to Life, the third pro-life organization to endorse Ivey as Governor.

In a letter announcing their support for Kay Ivey, National Right to Life Executive Director David O’Steen and Political Director Karen Cross described Governor Ivey as a “strong advocate for life.”

National Right to Life applauded Governor Ivey’s support of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act as well as her opposition to using taxpayer dollars to fund abortions and abortion providers.

“All Alabama voters who are concerned with the right to life and with the protection of the most vulnerable members of the human family should vote to reelect you as governor so that you can continue to advance vital pro-life public policies,” said Cross and O’Steen.

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Governor Ivey’s opponent, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter “Walt” Maddox (D) has been running ads touting his pro-life and pro-gun credentials, which is odd for the modern Democratic Party; but Ivey is the one with the endorsements from the Susan B. Anthony List, Alabama Citizens four Life, and the National Rifleman’s Association (NRA). The NRA magazines with their Kay Ivey endorsements arrived in NRA households across Alabama on Tuesday.

“This endorsement reflects your commitment to strengthening a culture of life. We look forward to working with you to protect the most vulnerable members of the human family – unborn children and medically dependent or disabled persons – whose lives are threatened by abortion or euthanasia,” said Cross and O’Steen in their letter.

Kay Ivey has served two terms as Alabama’s state Treasurer and two terms as the Lieutenant Governor. She was elevated to Governor in April 2017 when then Governor Robert Bentley (R) resigned after the House Judiciary Committee began impeachment hearings. Ivey grew up on a cattle farm in Wilcox County, attended Auburn University, went to work as a school teacher, then went to work in state government.

Ivey’s campaign is emphasizing her administration’s strong job growth, robust economic growth, increasing pre-K access, and workforce development as reasons to elect her as governor. Mayor Maddox’s campaign is promising to extend Medicaid benefits to more people, raise fuel taxes, a state-sponsored lottery, taxing sports gambling, and a gambling agreement with the Poarch Creek Indians.

The general election will be on Tuesday, November 6. Also in this election, voters gets to vote on Amendment Two which states that nothing in the Alabama Constitution can be construed as allowing abortions to take place. The growing pro-life movement is hopeful that the U.S, Supreme Court will eventually overturn the highly controversial Roe versus Wade ruling that forced the states to allow abortion on demand.

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National

Brooks warns of potential debilitating national insolvency after deficit jumps 17 percent

Brandon Moseley

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U.S. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, issued a warning about the potential for a “Debilitating National Insolvency and bankruptcy that robs America of the prosperity and peace we have long enjoyed” following the release of the Treasury Department’s preliminary Fiscal Year 2018 deficit projection of $779 billion and the Comptroller General’s statement that America’s fiscal path is “unsustainable.”

“Yesterday’s Treasury Department report confirms that, when it comes to financial responsibility, Washington is a total and complete bipartisan failure,” Brooks said. “Thankfully, because of free-enterprise economic reforms, America’s economy is booming and federal revenues are up. Unfortunately, Washington spending has once again outstripped and left revenue growth in the dust.”

“At $779 billion for FY 2018, America’s deficit is 17 percent worse than last year’s $666 billion deficit. [3] Worse yet, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that next year’s deficit will near the $1-trillion mark,” Brooks wrote in a statement. “Even worse yet, the CBO estimates all subsequent deficits will blow past $1 trillion per year. [4] America’s total debt has exploded to $21.5 trillion. [5] U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro has once again evaluated America’s deficit and debt situation and warned Washington that our financial path is ‘unsustainable’ (accounting language for ‘an insolvency and bankruptcy is in America’s future if we do not change our financially irresponsible path’).”

“American taxpayers shelled out about $325 billion in debt service costs in Fiscal Year 2018,” Rep. Brooks continued. “To put $325 billion into perspective, it is more than 15 times what America spends annually on NASA and more than 6 times what the federal government spends annually on transportation. Absent constructive change, the CBO warns Washington that debt service costs will exceed $800 billion per year within a decade. [7] $800 billion is more than what America currently spends on national defense.”

“This financial data points to one dangerous outcome: a debilitating national insolvency and bankruptcy that robs Americans of the prosperity and peace we have long enjoyed,” Rep. Brooks warned. “I cannot overemphasize how the voting public throughout America must do a far better job of studying and understanding economic issues well enough to elect senators and congressmen who have both the intellect to understand the threat posed by America’s deficits and accumulated debt and the backbone to do what it takes to prevent the economic destruction of a nation it took our ancestors centuries to build.”

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The primary driver of the debt has been entitlements, Brooks said. So-called “mandatory spending” on expensive social programs including: Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are increasing much faster than federal revenues or GDP. The Republican Congress has increased spending on Defense, cut taxes, but has not addressed exploding entitlement costs. The improving economy also means rising interest rates which dramatically increases the cost of servicing the national debt, which has ballooned to $21,634 billion.

Congressman Mo Brooks is seeking his fifth term in the United States Congress. He faces former Huntsville city attorney Peter Joffrion in the general election on November 6.

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State Rep. Ed Henry, indicted on federal fraud charges, says he is innocent

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 5 min
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