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DHS Says Ted Suhl Was ‘Person C’ in Steven Jones Bribery Case

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Ted Suhl, owner Trinity Behavior Healthcare at Warm Springs (Randolph County) and other behavioral treatment facilities, has been identified by the Arkansas Department of Human Services as “Person C” who allegedly provided bribes to former DHS Deputy Director Steven B. Jones.

Jones waived indictment and pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count each of bribery and conspiracy for accepting bribes, but the charges filed by federal prosecutors did not identify Person C or his companies. The middlemen who funneled cash and other things of value to Jones were identified only as “Person A” and “Person B.”

No criminal charges have been filed against Suhl, and he did not immediately return a message seeking comment left at Trinity Behavioral Healthcare. DHS indicated that a referral to the Office of Medicaid Inspector General was possible.

Arkansas Business submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to DHS on Friday in hopes of determining which owner of behavior health facilities was implicated in the crimes. Arkansas Business withdrew its original FOI request, which asked for materials provided to the FBI, after department spokeswoman Amy Webb provided the following statement identifying the provider:

“DHS worked Friday to verify the name of the individual identified as ‘Person C’ in the criminal information issued late Thursday afternoon against former Deputy Director Steven Jones. We have determined that Person C is Ted Suhl, who owns behavioral health companies that provide inpatient services to youth and outpatient services to youth and adults in Arkansas. We have not determined whether the allegations specific to Mr. Suhl are true. However, federal and state law authorizes us to suspend or exclude a provider engaging in the alleged conduct described in the federal court filings, and we will pursue all appropriate actions to protect the integrity of the Medicaid program.

“If a provider is suspended or excluded, a transition period would be needed to ensure Arkansas Medicaid beneficiaries do not go without needed care. During that time, DHS would identify other providers who offer both residential and outpatient behavioral health services and would assist in transitioning beneficiaries.

“If appropriate, DHS also would refer the provider to the Office of Medicaid Inspector General for further investigation.

“All affected Medicaid beneficiaries and providers will be notified of any action taken DHS and what steps are being taken to ensure continued access to care.”

Webb said approximately 80 Medicaid beneficiaries are currently receiving treatment at the Warm Springs facility, and about 2,500 more are receiving outpatient services through Suhl companies. “So this is a large provider,” Webb said.

The Arkansas Times profiled Suhl’s businesses in 2009.

Arkansas Business will update this story.

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