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Date of Issue: November 01, 2007

Acute Care colleague plea bargains sentence

The seven women from Acute Care in Anna Maria charged in February with Medicaid fraud are now just five.

Carla Camacho, 43, last week joined colleague Stephanie Nichols in plea-bargaining a guilty plea and was given 15 years of probation along with 200 hours of community service. Camacho will also have to repay an as-yet undetermined sum of money

In exchange for her guilty plea, Camacho agreed to testify against the remaining five defendants, said Loren Burns of the Florida state attorney’s office.

Last month, Stephanie Nichols, 53, of Bradenton, accepted a plea arrangement of five and 15 years of probation for each of the two charges of fraud she was facing.

The remaining five defendants include Acute Care owners Jeanne Ferguson and Nancy Wood, both of Holmes Beach, along with Bradenton residents Heidi Rickert, Andrea Suarez and Cynthia May.

The five are accused of filing nearly $2.7 million in bogus Medicaid claims with the state of Florida. Each of the women have entered not guilty pleas and a trial date is set for 8:30 a.m. Dec. 3.

Each of the women have been charged with one count of Medicaid fraud, a third-degree felony, and one count of organized fraud, a third-degree felony. If convicted on both counts, the women face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of $15,000.