Local & Regional Briefs for Thursday, March 27
Michael Ramsdell, attorney for suspended Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams listens to arguments in Merrimack County Superior Court Wednesday, March 26, 2014 in Concord, N.H. Reams is accused, by the New Hampshire Attorney General's office, of improperly handling money and sexually harassing his female employees. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Three in Upper Valley Charged With Medicaid Fraud
Woodstock — Three Upper Valley residents were among four people arraigned separately Tuesday on charges of Medicaid fraud related to in-home care services that allegedly were never provided, according to a news release from the Vermont Attorney General’s Office.
Theresa Ambrose, 55, of Springfield, Vt., Magen Hill, 27, of Perkinsville, and Crystal Hathaway-Therrien, 30, of Bradford Vt., were arraigned on one count of Medicaid fraud each in Superior Court in Woodstock.
Another person, Nikiesha McGovern, 25, of West Rutland, was also arraigned on one count of felony Medicaid fraud. Additionally, McGovern and Hathaway-Therrien each face one felony count of false pretense.
All four women were released with conditions. Collectively, they are alleged to have submitted 34 fraudulent timesheets for almost 2,000 hours of care for children and vulnerable adults that was not provided, resulting in overpayments by the Vermont Medicaid program of about $18,000.
Each Medicaid fraud felony charge carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment and/or fines equal to twice the amount of payments wrongfully obtained.
No New Plans For Old Claremont Pool
Claremont — With about a month before the deadline imposed by the City Council in January, no one has presented a proposal for a new outdoor pool or alternative aquatic facility.
“I have not seen anything. Not a word,” City Manager Guy Santagate said this week.
After months of discussion and a $25,000 engineering study on the cost to repair the pool at Veterans Park, the council voted in early January to delay demolition until April 30 to allow for a plan for the structure to be presented to the council. If no viable plan is presented, the council will order the pool demolished, the council decided in a 7-1 vote on January 8.
The pool was constructed in 1952 and has not been open since the end of the 2011 season. In the spring of 2012, the council discussed demolishing it, but no final vote was taken. Last year, resident Jeff Barrette, a county commissioner and local business owner, led a petition drive to save the pool and that led to the engineering study, which concluded that the cost to repair the pool would be at least $500,000.
Councilors all agreed no tax dollars should be put into the repairing the pool or building a new one but some said there is no reason to tear it down if it is not costing the city money and there are no immediate plans for the space.
Lebanon City Council Re-Elects Mayor
Lebanon — City Councilors elected a new slate of officers at their meeting on Wednesday night.
Re-elected Councilors Georgia Tuttle, Ward 1; Bruce Bronner Vogel, Ward 2; Carol Dustin, Ward 3; Nicole Cormen, At-Large; and Erling Heistad, At-Large, took their seats and City Clerk Sandra Allard swore in the entire nine-person council.
In a unanimous vote, they elected Georgia Tuttle to continue as mayor, a position she has held since 2009.
The mayor acts as spokeswoman for the council and sets meeting agendas.
Former Assistant Mayor Steve Wood nominated Councilor Suzanne M. Prentiss to take his place, a move that received unanimous support. Prentiss will act as mayor in Tuttle’s absence.
Suspended County Attorney Case Goes to N.H. Court
Concord (ap) — A veteran county attorney will fight in court to get his job back after he was suspended amid an investigation into sexual harassment and improper handling of money.
At a hearing Wednesday, Merrimack County Superior Court Justice Richard McNamara said he’ll decide before a scheduled April 7 hearing whether to grant a motion by suspended Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams to force prosecutors to turn over the evidence collected against him.
Reams was suspended in November as Attorney General Joseph Foster began his investigation. Foster filed a complaint this month seeking Reams’ removal from office.
Reams has denied the accusations. His lawyer, Michael Ramsdell, said Reams will be reinstated when the evidence is presented in court. “We’ve said from the start that we didn’t think criminal charges would be brought and they haven’t been brought,” Ramsdell said. “I’ll be arguing that the attorney general abused his discretion.”
The investigation into Reams began in October with complaints of sexual harassment but led to a probe into alleged financial wrongdoing. Reams was barred from the office during the probe, and investigators say they uncovered a pattern of financial abuse related to two funds managed by the office. Among the allegations are that Reams improperly mixed state and federal money and then maintained complete control of how the money was spent, often going several years without filing the required accounting paperwork.— Staff and Wire reports