Two former nonprofit health executives have pleaded guilty to their role in a public corruption scandal that took down four Arkansas lawmakers, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday.
Bontiea Bernedette Goss, 63, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pay bribes and kickbacks, and her husband, Tommy “Tom” Ray Goss, 66, pleaded guilty to participating in the conspiracy by embezzling funds from Preferred Family Healthcare Inc. of Springfield, Missouri.
Tom Goss also pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and assisting in the preparation and presentation of a false tax return.
In exchange for the bribes and kickbacks paid by the Gosses and other co-conspirators, elected state officials in Arkansas provided favorable legislative and official action for the charity, such as directing funds from the state’s General Improvement Fund, authorities said.
Under the terms of their respective plea agreements, the Gosses must forfeit to the government up to $4.3 million as determined by the court at their sentencing.
Earlier this year, Preferred Family Healthcare agreed to pay more than $8 million in forfeiture and restitution to the federal government and the state of Arkansas under the terms of a non-prosecution agreement, which acknowledges the criminal conduct of its former officers and employees.
Several other former executives from the nonprofit have also pleaded guilty, including former CEO Marilyn Luann Nolan. She pleaded guilty in November 2018 to her role in a conspiracy to embezzle and misapply the funds of a charitable organization that received federal funds.
Lobbyist and former Preferred Healthcare head of operations Milton "Rusty" Cranford was sentenced to seven years in federal prison without parole after pleading guilty to one count of federal program bribery.
Former state senators Jeremy Hutchinson and Jon Woods and former state representatives Eddie Cooper and Hank Wilkins IV have each pleaded guilty in the federal corruption investigation, as well.