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Rutledge Announces $300,000 Judgment Against Loan Shark Bailey’s Superstore

Rutledge Announces $300,000 Judgment Against Loan Shark Bailey’s Superstore

Mon, Jul 20, 2020

Says, ‘Bailey abused the criminal court system to take advantage of vulnerable Arkansans’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced a judgment against Dennis Bailey and the businesses he controls: Bailey’s Superstore, Inc., Bailey’s Bottleshoppe, Brooks Bailey Enterprises, Inc., Bailey’s On Main, Bailey’s Pawn and Gun, and Newsmart Liquor. Rutledge filed a lawsuit against Bailey and his businesses under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act for his illegal use of the criminal court system to collect debts. The judgment requires that Bailey pay $50,000 in restitution, $250,000 in suspended civil penalties and withdraw all outstanding affidavits previously submitted to the Hot Check Coordinator valued at approximately $125,000.

“Bailey abused the criminal court system to take advantage of vulnerable Arkansans who needed money to pay their bills or for emergencies—some even paying for a family member’s funeral,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Anyone who has experienced these illegal business practices should call my office to let us do the fighting for you.”

The complaint filed in July 2019 showed Bailey often loaned large amounts of money to his customers, and as security for the loans, Bailey accepted a signed blank check. When the debt was due, consumers could buy the blank check back for the cost of the original loan plus interest that violates the Arkansas Constitution’s 17 percent usury cap. If the consumer were unable to pay the debt on time, Bailey would add the principal and interest together, enter it as the amount to be paid on the check, and deposit it into one of his business bank accounts. If the check returned unpaid by the bank, Bailey turned those checks over to the prosecuting attorney’s office for enforcement under Arkansas’s Hot Check Law despite the law’s clear prohibition against its use for the collection of pre-existing debts. In some instances, consumers who did not repay Bailey’s loans on time were arrested, jailed, and convicted of crimes they never committed.

Under the consent judgment in this case, Bailey and his businesses are permanently restrained and enjoined from offering or providing usurious loans, the deferred deposit of checks for usurious fees, or charging usurious check-cashing fees. He is also enjoined from holding any check, debit or credit card, driver’s license or identification, or EBT card as a promissory note or security for the payment of any money, loan, or debt. He and his businesses are barred from submitting any transaction to any prosecuting attorney’s office for collection or law enforcement action that violates Arkansas law. The judgment bars Bailey from retaliating against any person who reports that their debt to Bailey was wrongfully submitted to law enforcement for collection or who provided information or cooperated with the State in its investigation and prosecution of the case and from threatening consumers with taking any of the above actions. No person employed by or affiliated with Bailey can violate these provisions.

Bailey must cooperate and assist the State to resolve all wrongful arrests or convictions of affected consumers, reinstatement of victims’ wrongfully-suspended licenses, refunds of fees and fines, and expungement of any criminal records.

Victims of these or similar business practices should contact the Attorney General’s office to file a consumer complaint at (800) 482-8982 or go to ArkansasAG.gov.

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Rutledge Announces 2020 Summer Interns

Rutledge Announces 2020 Summer Interns

Fri, Jul 17, 2020

Says, ‘exclusive internship program that allows students to gain first-hand and unique experiences in public service’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge this week welcomed ten students from across the State to the Attorney General’s Office Annual Summer Internship program. Despite a brief delay in start dates due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office has provided a variety of experience to students and future leaders in a safe environment.

“I am excited to offer this exclusive internship program that allows students to gain first-hand and unique experiences in public service,” said Attorney General Rutledge, “Each intern will work with the professionals in various areas of the Office where they learn the value of helping Arkansans.”

Rutledge is proud to welcome the following students into the Office:

Gifty Agana is a senior at Hendrix College where she is a Political Science major. She is from Fayetteville and a graduate of Fayetteville High School. Agana is working in the Public Affairs Department.

Deshawn Beard is a sophomore at Philander Smith College where she is a Philosophy major. She is from New Orleans and a graduate of Slidell High School. Beard is working in the Public Affairs Department.

Madison Beck graduated from the University of Arkansas Walton College of Business in May with a Bachelor of Science degree. She was a business administration major with an emphasis in marketing. Beck, of Center Ridge, is a graduate of St. Joseph High School and worked in the Northwest Arkansas Office. She will pursue her juris doctorate degree from University of Arkansas School of Law beginning this fall.

Jake James is a junior at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville where he is a Financial Management/Investment and Pre-Law major. He is a Little Rock native, and graduated from the Little Rock Catholic High School for Boys. James is working in the Public Affairs Department.

Kyle Lants is a senior at the University of South Carolina where he is Criminal Justice and Criminology major. He is a Little Rock native and graduated from Pulaski Academy. Lants is working in the Public Affairs Department.

David Lee is a senior at the University of Central Arkansas where he is a History major with a minor in Communications and Political Science. He is from Maumelle and graduated from Maumelle High School. Lee is working in the Communications Department.

Drew Martin is a graduate student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock where he is currently seeking a master’s degree in public administration. He is from Bryant and graduated from Bryant High School and received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Martin is working in the Public Affairs Department.

Mallory McClure is a junior at the University of Central Arkansas where she is a Political Science and Communication major. She is from Batesville and a graduate of Batesville High School. McClure is working in the Communications Department.

Kaitlyn McFarland is a junior at the University of Alabama where she is a Political Science major. She is from Hot Springs and a graduate of Lakeside High School. McFarland is working in the Administration Department.

Allyson Oliver is a junior at Ouachita Baptist University where she is a Psychology and Political Science major. She is from Conway, and a graduate of Conway High School. Oliver is working in the Public Affairs Department

Katie Strickland is a junior at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville where she is an International and Global Studies and Political Science major. She is from Little Rock and a graduate of Mount St. Mary Academy. Strickland is working in the Public Affairs Department.

Maddison Thomas is a senior at Hendrix College where she is a Sociology major. She is from North Little Rock and graduated from North Little Rock High School. Thomas is working in the Public Affairs Department.

College students interested in learning more about the Attorney General’s Internship program should contact the Office at (501) 682-2454 or by email at internship@arkansasag.gov.

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Rutledge Issues Statement on Governor Hutchinson’s Executive Order on Statewide Mask Mandate

Rutledge Issues Statement on Governor Hutchinson’s Executive Order on Statewide Mask Mandate

Thu, Jul 16, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a statement following Governor Hutchinson’s Executive Order on a statewide mask mandate.

“I have long encouraged Arkansans to take personal responsibility of preventing the spread of COVID19 by wearing masks when not able to socially distance,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is imperative that we all take the exponential spread of this deadly disease seriously not only for the safety of family, friends and neighbors, but we must also reopen our schools and get our economy back to its full strength moving our country away from this virus and back to exercising our God given freedoms.”

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Rutledge Issues Statement Following the Federal Execution of Daniel Lee

Rutledge Issues Statement Following the Federal Execution of Daniel Lee

Tue, Jul 14, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following the federal execution of Daniel Lewis Lee, convicted of killing a Pope County family of three, including an eight-year-old girl, in 1999.

“I appreciate the leadership of our federal partners to ensure justice was carried out this morning,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Today reaffirms that we are a country of laws and the most heinous offenses, like Lee’s act of torturing and murdering this Arkansas family, must be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

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Rutledge Announces a Guilty Plea by the CEO and Owner of New Beginnings Behavioral Health Services

Rutledge Announces a Guilty Plea by the CEO and Owner of New Beginnings Behavioral Health Services

Tue, Jul 14, 2020

Says, ‘This culture of corruption has run rampant through our Medicaid system and it must be stopped’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced Chirie Bazzelle pleaded guilty to obstructing governmental operations. Bazzelle is the owner and CEO at New Beginnings Behavioral Health Services (New Beginnings). In 2018 alone, New Beginnings billed the Medicaid program over $5.3 million. As a result of this investigation and Bazzelle’s arrest New Beginnings is no longer a Medicaid provider.

“This culture of corruption has rampant through our Medicaid system and it must be stopped,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Bazzelle is another bad actor who should never be allowed to work in our healthcare system and people like her must be removed from their positions.”

Bazzelle, 46, of Benton, failed to report contracts with lobbyist Milton “Rusty” Cranford, and former Department of Human Services Auditor, Robin Raveendran. Cranford, Raveendran and other full time employees of Preferred Family Healthcare secretly helped Bazzelle turn New Beginnings into one of the state’s largest single site mental health providers. She also knowingly concealed the continued employment of at least one individual who had previously been convicted of Medicaid Fraud.

Robin Raveendran, a former state auditor and Preferred Family Healthcare Director of Program Integrity and Director of Operations, is currently charged with two counts of Medicaid fraud, one Class A felony and one Class B felony based on a two year investigation by the Arkansas Attorney General’s office Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Both Cranford and Raveendran have pleaded guilty in a parallel federal public corruption case involving Preferred Family Healthcare and former Arkansas legislators.

Medicaid fraud occurs when providers use the Medicaid program to obtain money to which they are not entitled. To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or oag@arkansasag.gov.

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Rutledge and the U.S. Department of Justice Ask U.S. Supreme Court to Uphold Arkansas’s Medicaid Expansion Program Requirements

Rutledge and the U.S. Department of Justice Ask U.S. Supreme Court to Uphold Arkansas’s Medicaid Expansion Program Requirements

Tue, Jul 14, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review and uphold the Arkansas Works Medicaid Demonstration Project. The U.S. Department of Justice is also seeking review to uphold Arkansas’s Medicaid expansion project.

“Arkansas Works’ model was designed to encourage able-bodied Arkansans without dependents to transition into the workforce, building a stronger, more resilient connection with their communities,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I appreciate Attorney General Bill Barr hearing from us last week in Arkansas on this issue and as a result, the Department of Justice also filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to allow our pilot program to continue as a way to support Arkansans by enabling recipients to obtain employment in exchange for Medicaid benefits and create a sense of accomplishment by improving their health and financial independence.”

In February, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s decision to vacate Arkansas Works.

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