Monday, December 11, 2017

Swamp bubbles at DHS

A familiar face is back in town at the Mississippi Department of Human Services.  Janet Mann assumed the position of Deputy Director on November 1.   Mississippi politicos will remember Ms. Mann served as Chairwoman of the Tax Appeals Board under Governor Haley Barbour. 

She was confirmed after a rough confirmation fight in the Senate.  She was a deputy administrator at the Division of Medicaid when Governor Barbour nominated her to the Board in 2010.  A PEER report raised concerns about her appointment after a company she partly-owned was involved in a Georgia government fraud case.   PEER denied a public records request that was submitted for the report. 

Ms. Mann owned two companies, the Capitol Group and Capitol Health Systems in the early 2000's.  She made a foray into Georgia that landed her businesses in a briar patch with a Georgia lobbyist, Chad Long, and a former Georgia State Representative, Robin Williams.  Mr. Williams found a pigeon in the Community Mental Health Center of Augusta, Georgia.  He manged to get several deals that were sweet for his friends but looted the Center.

One of those deals involved Capitol Health Systems.  CHS hired Mr. Long as a lobbyist in 2001.  The Mississippi company obtained a contract to handle the Center's billings for $1.2 million per year and 20% of increased revenue. 
 (Augusta Chronicle, 2/2/03).

All kinds of shenanigans took place while CHS had the contract. The Augusta Chronicle reported on February 6, 2003 (p.4):

A financially troubled Augusta mental health center could face repaying as much as $770,000 in possibly unauthorized Medicaid billings, officials said Tuesday night....

Georgia Medicaid employs an outside firm to evaluate and authorize requests for some mental health services, and there is a "switch," or restriction, within the Augusta center's software that would not submit an electronic billing without it, said center contractor Janet Mann, of Capitol Health Systems. The switch was turned off sometime in late July, and that could be done only by "management," Ms. Mann said.

"(Executive Director) Mike Brockman made that decision," said the board's Finance Committee chairman, Jack Cheatham. Mr. Brockman was put on paid leave last month at the beginning of the investigation. There could be as much as $770,000 in unauthorized payments, said Stan Markowski, the center's manager for management information systems.

Capitol Health, which in August began a $1.2 million-a-year contract to handle the center's accounting, received a $100,000 bonus for increasing billing and efficiency, Ms. Mann said....

That is not the only problem at the center. Billings and expenses are so off that trouble looms ahead, Dr. Cheatham said.

"By April or May, at the rate we're going now, we will be drowning in red ink," he said.
Not if they make some cuts and take a look at a few contracts, Dr. Horton said. For instance, the contract with Capitol Health Systems "is costing us three times what it was before when our own people did it," he said. It is a five-year contract, Ms. Mann said, but acting Business Manager Mark Hilton said that before Jan. 1, the center was contractually restricted from signing multiyear contracts.
Make no mistake, a great deal of money flowed through the Augusta center.  It billed Medicaid more than $8 million in 2002 and received $10 million directly from the state.  The newspaper reported some more interesting details about how the "switch" was turned off:

The "switch" is more like an edit prompt or "flag" within the billing software that asks if there is authorization included and then whether to submit the bill, said Keith Moran, the chief financial officer for the Community Service Board of Middle Georgia in Dublin. His center uses the same software, but it is set so that if there is no authorization included, the bill does not go out. Augusta's software was apparently set to submit without authorization since late July, just before a private contractor, Capitol Health Systems, took over accounting for the center, according to Janet Mann of Capitol Health.
State auditors jumped into this Medicaid morass and pointed some fingers at CHS.  The Chronicle reported on March 27, 2003:

A July 2002 contract states that Capitol Health will be paid quarterly incentive payments for increased revenue collected. In October, Capitol Health submitted an invoice for $107,000, which was paid. The invoice included a claim that the company recovered $535,000. However, Capitol Health was unable to produce supporting documentation.

Agencies investigated but the Fibbies jumped in and started passing out indictments.   Ms. Mann was not indicted but everyone around her in this deal wasn't so lucky.  The grand jury returned indictments against Mr. Williams.  CHS's former lobbyist, Chad Long, was indicted as was former Atlanta Braves pitcher-turned-lobbyist
Rick Camp.  Long is the grandson of a former Georgia Speaker of the House.  The indictments provided more information about their schemes:

The indictment's first count details a complex conspiracy, which says:

In 1999, Mr. Williams used his position as legislator to get C. Michael Brockman hired at the Augusta mental health center as its business manager and got the state to give the center $68,000 for his salary. Mr. Williams would later line up companies to do business with the center through Mr. Brockman with the understanding that part of that money would end up in his pocket.

Mr. Williams rewarded Mr. Brockman with cash and gifts, including a $7,200 Caribbean cruise.

Mr. Brockman negotiated fat contracts with the lobbyists, Duncan Drugs and a company called Capitol Health Systems, which Mr. Williams partly owned. Mr. Brockman would make a periodic payment, and days later the contractor would typically write a check for half to Mr. Williams.

Robin Williams is not mentioned anywhere in CHS's corporate records filed with the Mississippi Secretary of State.    However, Mrs. Mann apparently helped the Feds.  The Chronicle reported on May 28, 2004:

Wilson Carroll, attorney for Capitol Health President Janet Mann, said his client has cooperated fully with the investigation and will continue to do so. Ms. Mann was not named in the indictment and was referenced only by her initials, "JM."

The indictment alleges that Mr. Williams was part owner of Capitol Health and that Mr. Brockman rigged the bidding so that it was awarded a $1.2 million contract to handle the center's billing in July 2002. "JM," according to the indictment, then wrote Mr. Williams 14 checks totaling more than $170,000 over the next six months.

The U.S. District Court will settle whether the contracts were legitimate, said Phil Horton, acting executive director for the center.

"But if that's true, why were we facing financial insolvency in April of last year?" Dr. Horton asked. At one point last year, the center was looking at a nearly $2 million deficit, which it solved in part by terminating hefty contracts with companies tied to Mr. Williams....
The defendants were all convicted (See. p. 25 for sentences).

 This history is probably what was spelled out in the PEER report.  The report said:

“It is nonetheless apparent that Ms. Mann knew, or should have known, that some of the actions surrounding her firm’s selection to provide collection services were of dubious propriety, if not questionable legality,”
The Senate confirmed her on a vote of 31-8.  Ms. Mann is a CPA.  Her DHS salary is $106,000.  The Arkansas Department of Human Services hired her as Chief Financial Officer in April, 2017. 

Kingfish note: Mr. Williams was apparently involved in some Mississippi mud.   The Augusta Chronicle kept digging and presented its findings on September 1, 2018.  Mr. Williams was up to his whatever you call it in the Beef Plant fiasco:

Robert Moultrie wanted his Smyrna, Ga., company to get a lucrative contract to manage construction of a state-run cattle plant in Mississippi....

He wanted to meet the governor and make substantial donations to his re-election campaign. According to federal documents, he had a point man who arranged the hook-up and helped raise the money: Robin Williams. Now Mr. Moultrie might be joining Mr. Williams in federal prison.

Mr. Williams and fellow legislator-turned-convict Charles Walker were being held in an Oxford, Miss., jail last month while the U.S. attorney's office there prepared for trial against three executives from The Facility Group, the project manager of the failed Mississippi Beef Processors LLC plant. Court records shed light on what Mr. Williams had to do with illegal contributions to the state's former governor.

Mr. Williams once worked as a consultant and lobbyist for the company, and according to case filings, in April 2003 he set up a meeting between Mr. Moultrie, The Facility Group's chairman, and then-Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.

An indictment says Mr. Williams attended the meeting, held at a Jackson, Miss., restaurant, with Mr. Moultrie, a "public official" and a campaign employee. By matching campaign contributions to details of the charges, The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal identified the official as Mr. Musgrove, who lost his re-election bid later that year....

The announcement that the company would be the beef plant's project manager -- a $6.5 million contract -- came 13 days after the dinner meeting...

"On the phone this is what was told," Mr. Williams' testimony reads. "We got the contract. I've (Moultrie) got to do a fundraiser for the (public official). I've got to raise $100,000 dollars.

"He said we're going to be in Smyrna at my home. I need you to bring some money," Mr. Williams continued. At a July fundraiser, Facility Group employees were told to donate $1,000 each, then were reimbursed $1,500 by the company. They raised $25,000, and Mr. Williams provided a check for $25,000 to the Democratic Governors Association, court documents say. The company created a political action committee and gave two more contributions of $20,000 and $25,000, for a total of $95,000. Later, The Facility Group billed the state for false labor expenses, trying to recoup the campaign donations and the money spent reimbursing employees, documents say. It also submitted invoices for Mr. Moultrie's travel and dinner at the meeting arranged by Mr. Williams.

All three executives took plea bargains instead of going to trial and are awaiting sentencing.


Anonymous said...

They better be glad the Trump administration is running the show and could care less about the Olivia Y. lawsuit.

Feds were supposed to come in and clean up DHS if the state was not up to par in cleaning up the agency.

Oh well. You get what you vote for. The Republicans have spoken. It's officially their problem.

Anonymous said...

Who knew that Mork himself was a Georgia state lawmaker in a past life?

Haley's Comet said...

The name Haley Barbour keeps popping up. And for some reason, he is still championing the talents of Miss Fitch whom he groomed and shuffled around from agency to agency years ago.

Anonymous said...

Haley didn't groom, Fitch; he tolerated her.

Anonymous said...

Tolerated her? Is that why he put her in the Personnel Board and Employment Security? He has championed the career of that woman for years and is still doing it. Maybe he fancies her a trophy of some sort. Can't imagine why.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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