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Date of Issue: November 29, 2007

4 defendants await Acute Care trial

A third woman associated with the Medicaid fraud case against Anna Maria’s Acute Care medical therapy and supply company has agreed to a plea-bargain agreement in which she will testify against the remaining four defendants in a trial that has now been moved from Dec. 3 to June 2, 2008.

Andrea Suarez joined Stephanie Nichols and Carla Camacho in accepting a plea-bargain agreement in the case. Suarez received probation sentences of five and 15 years respectively for each of the two counts of fraud against her. She will also serve 200 hours of community service and repay an undisclosed sum of money, in addition to agreeing to testify against the remaining four defendants, including Acute Care owners Nancy Wood and Jeanne Ferguson, both of Holmes Beach.

Also charged in the case are Acute Care staff members Heidi Rickert and Cynthia May.

Camacho and Nichols already accepted similar plea-bargain arrangements, leaving Acute Care owners and Holmes Beach residents Jeanne Ferguson and Nancy Wood to face fraud charges at trial, along with Bradenton residents Heidi Rickert and Cynthia May.

The defendants, who have pleaded innocent, are accused of filing nearly $2.7 million in bogus Medicaid claims with the state of Florida.

They are 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, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of $15,000.