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Date of Issue: April 05, 2007

Not guilty plea for Acute Care owner, top staffers

Five of the seven Acute Care staff members arrested in Anna Maria Feb. 23 and charged with Medicaid fraud have entered not guilty pleas.

Acute Care president Jeanne Ferguson entered a not guilty plea March 21, as did chief financial officer Nancy Wood. Both women reside on Dundee Lane in Holmes Beach and are represented by attorney Stephen Romine.

Also pleading not guilty are office manager Heidi Rickert, supervisor of respiratory therapy Andrea Suarez and chief operating officer Cynthia May. The remaining two defendants, respiratory therapists Carla Camacho and Stephanie Nichols, had not entered a plea by March 30.

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 attorney general’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.

A trial date has not yet been set.

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

In addition to providing respiratory therapy to children, the company provides hospital beds, bathroom accessories, electric wheelchairs, orthopedic equipment and a host of other medical equipment.