Rutledge Encourages All Arkansans to Practice Civic Duty on Election DayTue, Nov 3, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – It’s Election Day and Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is encouraging all Arkansans to make their vote count. Elections give you a voice. You can make decisions about the candidates and issues that directly impact our communities. There are hundreds of important elections to vote on this year—ranging from national races like the ones for President and Congress, to state and local races for county judge, mayor, school board, and many others. Like many years, Arkansans can also decide whether to approve amendments to the Arkansas Constitution.
“We live in a country with free and fair elections, and our vote and voice matter. I want all Arkansans to have the opportunity to make their choices this year,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “This is one of the most important rights we have as Americans and I ask you all to go to the polls and cast your ballots.”
In 2020, Arkansas has seen a record number of early voting totals. More than 750,000 ballots were cast in the two weeks leading up to Election Day and over 115,000 absentee ballots were returned to county clerks. If you plan to vote today, get to the polls early and be prepared to wait in line. Polls will be open from 7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. If you are in line by 7:30 p.m. you will be allowed to vote. If you have already voted, you can rest assured that all valid ballots will be counted no matter how long it takes.
Attorney General Rutledge released the following information for voters heading to the polls on Election Day:
- Confirm your voting registration, location and precinct at VoterView.org.
- The Arkansas Department of Health issued guidance for voters to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.
- Review candidate information and ballot issues by visiting the Secretary of State’s Elections website.
For tips on what to expect at your polling location, you can review the Secretary of State’s Voting 101 Pocket Guide or if you would like to report a voting concern, please contact the State Board of Election Commissioners at (501) 682-1834 or visit arkansas.gov/sbec.
Rutledge Announces Arrest of Independence County Man for Possession of Child PornographyFri, Oct 30, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the arrest of an Independence County man for crimes involving children.
David Shannon Canady, 39, of Batesville, was arrested by the Attorney General’s Office Cyber Crimes Unit on three counts of distributing, possessing or viewing of matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child, a Class C felony. He is currently being held at the Independence County Detention Center.
Special agents in the Attorney General’s Office, working in partnership with the Independence County Sheriff’s Office, seized a desktop computer, a 2 terabyte hard drive and a cellphone from the home. The file will be turned over to 16th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Eric Hance.
Rutledge’s Statement on Appointment of Amy Coney Barrett as U.S. Supreme Court JusticeMon, Oct 26, 2020
Says, ‘Judge Barrett will adhere to the rule of law to protect our Constitution and our country’
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the next U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
“As the mother of a two-year old daughter, I am personally and professionally thrilled about today’s historic confirmation of the first mother of young children to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As a strong and brilliant jurist, Judge Barrett will adhere to the rule of law to protect our Constitution and our country. I look forward to the many opportunities in which Justice Barrett will hear cases from our office which impact the lives of all Arkansans.”
Rutledge’s Statement on U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's Approval of Judge Barrett for U.S. Supreme CourtThu, Oct 22, 2020
Says, ‘Judge Barrett is, without a doubt, the best nominee President Donald J. Trump could have selected for the U.S. Supreme Court’
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following the U.S. Senate’s Judiciary Committee approval of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Judge Barrett is, without a doubt, the best nominee President Donald J. Trump could have selected for the U.S. Supreme Court and I applaud the Senate leadership for their thorough review of her exceptional resume,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “While displaying her scholarly understanding of the Constitution, Judge Barrett, exhibited poise and unparalleled control and I look forward to the final step in her confirmation to be the next U.S. Supreme Court Justice.”
Rutledge Announces Settlements with Preferred Family Health Totaling $6.5 MillionThu, Oct 22, 2020
Says, ‘I will do everything in my power to hold any Medicaid provider accountable’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that multimillion dollar federal and state civil settlements have been reached with Preferred Family Healthcare (PFH). Both settlements were based on an investigation conducted by the Attorney General Office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) into false claims submitted to the Arkansas Medicaid Program by former PFH employees. PFH has agreed to pay $4,555,632.10 to resolve a federal false claims case and $1,944,367.90 in a separate state settlement under the State False Claims Act. In addition to the larger settlement, five former employees of PFH have been charged in state court with Medicaid fraud and an additional employee settled false claims or actions.
“The false claims addressed in these settlements were the result of a culture of corruption at the highest levels of PFH in Arkansas, and as Attorney General, I will do everything in my power to hold any Medicaid provider accountable when Medicaid Program rules or the law is violated,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This settlement shows we will aggressively pursue any company that deceives Arkansans or takes advantage of the Medicaid program which provides medically-necessary treatment for many Arkansans.”
Through most of 2016, the MFCU investigated fraud in the Rehabilitative Services for Persons with Mental Illness (RSPMI) program. In September 2016, an informant and employee of PFH made a complaint to the MFCU claiming PFH had been billing Medicaid for counseling services not rendered or over-billed. These allegations involved inappropriate billing by individual therapists.
In December 2017, the informant contacted the MFCU with additional information that indicated PFH may have been inappropriately billing an entire class of recipients known as Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries (QMBs). Using data analytics, the MFCU was immediately able to confirm that claims for services improperly provided to this population were being submitted to Medicaid for payment rather than Medicare. While it was clear that the submitted claims were improper, it was not clear who within PFH was submitting the claims, whether they understood what they were doing was illegal, or how the claims were able to get through the edits in place in the Medicaid payment system that should have rejected the claims.
In early January 2018, the MFCU served PFH with a “Request for Information” seeking to determine how this had occurred. Later that same month the state's informant filed a federal sealed qui tam action against PFH under the federal false claims act. A qui tam action is a federal lawsuit brought by a private citizen to stop or prevent fraud and abuse of federal dollars.
PFH, a large mental health care organization, offered a range of services which included mental and behavioral health, substance use, employment, developmental disabilities, child welfare, and medical. Until October 2018, there were approximately 50 clinics throughout Arkansas. PFH no longer operates in the State of Arkansas.
The MFCU was assisted in its investigation by the Office of the Arkansas Medicaid Inspector General and the HHS-OIG-Office of Investigations.
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 email@example.com.
Rutledge Announces $500,000 Judgment Against Owner of Fraudulent Timeshare Exit CompanyWed, Oct 21, 2020
Says, ‘judgment sends a message to dishonest timeshare exit companies'
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced a judgment against Bart Bowe, co-owner of Bentonville, Arkansas-based Real Travel, LLC. Real Travel and its owners, Bowe and Brian Scroggs, charged consumers exorbitant fees but did not deliver on their guarantees to help consumers transfer or cancel their timeshare property interests. Rutledge filed a lawsuit against Real Travel, Bowe and Scroggs under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act for their deceptive acts and illegal misrepresentations to consumers. The judgment requires that Bowe pay $50,000 in restitution and $450,000 in suspended civil penalties.
“Good, hardworking people were promised a service they did not get. Instead, they were left with unwanted timeshares and additional debt.” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This judgment sends a message to other dishonest timeshare exit companies that seek to take thousands of dollars from unsuspecting timeshare owners.”
The lawsuit, filed in July 2019, alleged that Real Travel sold timeshare exit services to consumers nationwide. In exchange for a fee ranging from approximately $5,000 to $18,000, Real Travel convinced consumers through deception, high-pressure sales tactics, and a so-called “100% Guarantee” that it would liquidate, cancel, or transfer their unwanted timeshares. However, Real Travel failed to honor their agreements with consumers, leaving consumers burdened with the ownership of their unwanted timeshares, all the associated costs and fees and the additional unnecessary costs of Real Travel’s illusory services. During the investigation, the Attorney General’s Office discovered 83 consumers impacted by Real Travel’s illegal acts.
Under the consent judgment in this case, Bowe will no longer be able to conduct any business related to timeshares or timeshare exit businesses in Arkansas. The State is still pursuing a judgment against Real Travel and Scroggs in Benton County Circuit Court.
Consumers can file complaints with the Attorney General’s Office on ArkansasAG.gov or by calling (800) 482-8982.