More than 2,500 could be affected if DHS shuts down Suhl | Arkansas Blog

More than 2,500 could be affected if DHS shuts down Suhl

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The state Department of Human Services is working on a transition plan for 80 fulltime and 2,500 outpatients served by Trinity Behavioral Health and Arkansas Counseling Associates, both owned by Ted Suhl's Maxus Inc., should the department decide to "suspend or exclude" Suhl's companies from its Medicaid program. 

DHS confirmed yesterday that Suhl was the anonymous person that the U.S. attorney's office says paid bribes to former DHS deputy director Steven Jones in return for information kept by DHS on his companies. Jones, of Marion, pleaded guilty in federal court last week to accepting $5,000 in cash, channeled to him through intermediaries, as well as free meals.

Amy Webb, spokesperson for the DHS, said the decision on whether to continue to do business with Suhl "is in the hands of our attorneys." 

The money was delivered from Suhl to two intermediaries, whose names were also kept anonymous: "Person A," a pastor and superintendent of a church in West Memphis, and "Person B," a former Crittenden County juvenile probation officer and West Memphis city councilman. The checks were made out to the pastor's church; the pastor then provide cash to Jones, according to the information on file with the court.

Person B is possibly Phillip Wayne Carter, a former West Memphis city councilman who was sentenced in 2013 to three years probation for conspiracy to commit election fraud. Carter and former West Memphis police officer Sam Malone pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe voters to influence absentee votes in the District 54 primary and election in 2011. According to the U.S. attorney's office press release on the case, Carter resigned from his position as Crittenden County juvenile probation officer as a result of the federal charges. 

Cherith Beck, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said the investigation is ongoing and that Person A and Person B would not be identified unless charged.

Webb said the FBI "reached out and interviewed" DHS employees earlier this year and that the U.S. attorney's office spoke with department heads last week. The department is calculating the amount paid to Suhl's companies. 

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