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Date of Issue: December 06, 2007

Acute Care trial moved to June

The trial of four remaining defendants in the Acute Care Medicaid fraud case has been postponed until June after yet another defendant accepted a plea bargain agreement from the state attorney’s office.

The case against Acute Care owners Jeanne Ferguson and Nancy Wood, along with staff members Heidi Rickert and Cynthia May, was moved from a Dec. 3 court date to June 2, 2008, after defendant Andrea Suarez last month agreed to a plea bargain in which she will not serve any jail time, but pay an undisclosed fine and testify against the remaining four defendants.

Former Acute Care staffers Stephanie Nichols and Carla Camacho have previously accepted similar plea bargain agreements.

Prosecutor Loren Burns of the state attorneys office in Bradenton could not be reached for comment on the case.

Ferguson, Wood, Rickert and May are accused of filing nearly $2.7 million in bogus Medicaid claims with the state of Florida for the Anna Maria-based medical services company. Each of the women have entered not guilty pleas.

Following a lengthy investigation, the seven women were arrested Feb. 23 by agents of the Florida Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Unit in Tampa. The women were not arrested at Acute Care’s office on Gulf Drive in Anna Maria, but at various locations, including at home.

The remaining four defendants are each charged with one count of Medicaid fraud and one count of organized fraud, both third-degree felonies. If convicted on both counts, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of $15,000.

Ferguson and Wood are both Holmes Beach residents, while Rickert and May have listed addresses in Bradenton.

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