(Fixes misspelling of Bereday in second and fourth paragraphs)

By Nate Raymond

An ex-general counsel of insurer
WellCare Health Plans Inc pleaded guilty on Wednesday in
federal court in Tampa to having made a false statement to
Florida’s Medicaid program, prosecutors said, the latest former
executive to be convicted in the case.

Thaddeus Bereday, indicted along with four other former
WellCare executives in 2011, had been scheduled to face trial in
September after not going on trial in 2013 with other
executives for health reasons, prosecutors said. Bereday, 52,
faces a maximum of five years in prison.

A lawyer for Bereday did not respond to a request for

Bereday pleaded guilty two months after the U.S. Supreme
Court declined to hear an appeal by former WellCare Chief
Executive Todd Farha of his fraud conviction for his role in a
scheme to cheat the Medicaid health insurance program for the

Prosecutors said Farha and others engaged in a scheme to
file false Medicaid expense reports to Florida’s healthcare
administration overstating the amount the company’s subsidiaries
spent on mental health services for Medicaid patients.

Under a 2002 Florida law, companies were required to spend
80 percent of Medicaid dollars they received for mental health
services, and return the difference if they spend less.

According to court papers, Tampa-based WellCare created a
new unit to pay mental health care providers while retaining
millions of dollars in Medicaid funds that should have been

A federal jury in 2013 convicted Farha, former WellCare
Chief Financial Officer Paul Behrens, and former vice presidents
William Kale and Peter Clay.

A federal judge in 2014 imposed prison terms of three years
for Farha, two years for Behrens and one year for Kale. Clay was
sentenced to five years of probation.

WellCare in 2009 agreed to pay $80 million and enter into a
deferred prosecution agreement in connection with the

The case is U.S. v. Farha, et al, U.S. District Court,
Middle District of Florida, No. 11-cr-115.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; editing by Taylor
Harris and Grant McCool)

Go to Source

CORRECTED-Ex-WellCare general counsel pleads guilty in Florida Medicaid case