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Date of Issue: March 15, 2007

Acute Care team in court March 30

The seven staff members of Acute Care in Anna Maria arrested Feb. 23 on state charges of Medicaid fraud will be arraigned at 9 a.m. on March 30 in the Manatee County Circuit Court.

Arrested were Acute Care president Jeanne Ferguson, chief financial officer Nancy Wood, office manager Heidi Rickert, supervisor of respiratory therapy Andrea Suarez,  respiratory therapist Carla Camacho, respiratory therapist Stephanie Nichols, and chief operating officer Cynthia May.

All seven have been released on bail, but as of press deadline only Suarez and May have entered not guilty pleas. The remaining five defendants have not yet filed pleas.

Each of the seven are charged by the Florida Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Unit with one count of Medicaid provider fraud, a third-degree felony and one count of organized fraud, a first-degree felony. The total amount of fraudulent claims is $2.6 million, according to the FAG’s office. If convicted on both counts, each of the women could face a maximum of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

Manatee County Circuit on-line records indicate Wood and Ferguson live on Dundee Lane on Key Royale in Holmes Beach, while the remaining defendants live on the mainland.

Acute Care Inc. was formed in Anna Maria in 1996 and operated at a Pine Avenue location until moving to the former U.S. Post Office building at 9908 Gulf Drive several years ago.

In addition to providing respiratory therapy to children, the company also provides hospital beds, bathroom accessories, electric wheelchairs, orthopedic equipment and a host of other personal medical needs, particularly for handicapped individuals.