Banner Year in Arkansas: The Top 10 Business Stories of 2013

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 12:00 am  

Shoffner initially said she wouldn’t leave office despite the charges and her arrest. However, she changed her mind and resigned May 21 amid public outcry and bipartisan consternation.

On May 29, Gov. Mike Beebe appointed Charles Robinson, a retired Legislative Audit Division chief, to finish out Shoffner’s second term, which ends in January 2015.

On May 31, Shoffner disputed the alleged facts of a plea agreement in open court, a move that caught even her veteran defense attorney, Chuck Banks, by surprise.

Her position not to admit soliciting the bribes effectively derailed a plea bargain that probably would have resulted in a prison sentence of no more than 18 months

A grand jury indictment filed June 5 leveled six counts of extortion, one count of attempted extortion and seven counts of receipt of a bribe.

Shoffner pleaded not guilty to the charges at her June 27 arraignment. Her trial date is set for March 3 in Little Rock’s U.S. District Court before Judge Leon Holmes.

10. Massive Medicare Fraud

Dr. Stacey M. Johnson might have orchestrated the largest Medicare fraud in Arkansas’ history by allegedly overbilling the federal program by $14.7 million, according to a criminal investigator’s affidavit that was made public in 2013. Johnson likely would have been indicted, in connection with ordering tests that weren’t medically necessary, had he not died in March at the age of 63, according to a civil forfeiture lawsuit filed in September by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas.

The overbilling allegedly occurred between Jan. 1, 2004, and June 30, 2006, and Jan. 1, 2007, through June 26, 2009.

The story highlighted the fact that providers are behind some of the largest Medicare fraud cases in the country. And if red flags had been noticed earlier, Johnson’s practice might have been shut down before 2009, when the Arkansas State Medical Board finally yanked Johnson’s medical license, finding he was a danger to the public health, safety and welfare.

Concerns about Johnson’s treatment plans dated back to the 1980s when Medicare had “counseled” Johnson for ordering excessive tests on patients.

And over the years, patients and insurance companies had complained to the medical board about Johnson’s excessive testing.

Even Johnson’ ex-wife, Cynthia Johnson, who worked with him at his Mountain Home clinic, had complained about his running so many tests on patients.



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