Wood County doctor enters pleas for health care fraud

A 61-year-old Wood County physician has pleaded guilty to attempting to evade taxes and fraudulently claiming more than $34,000 in health care proceeds, U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld II has announced.

Dr. Barton Joseph Adams, who owned Interventional Pain Management Medical Office in Vienna, recently entered guilty pleas to health care fraud and tax evasion.

The indictment alleges Adams submitted fraudulent claims for ultrasound procedures and pain control injections that were not performed. It also claims Adams submitted false claims overstating how long patients were in his office.

The indictment also asserted Adams opened a bank account in Shepherdstown to make it appear as though his practice was in the Eastern Panhandle. He also represented to Medicare and Medicaid that he performed services in Martinsburg.

To disguise the location of the transferred funds, the indictment further asserts, Adams had accounts in the Philippines, Nova Scotia, China and other banks scattered around the United States.

According to the news release, Adams evaded taxes in the amount of $528,579 and made a fraudulent claim for health care proceeds in the amount of $34,314.86.

His wife, Josephine Adams, also opened accounts in several countries along with starting a “shell corporation” in the British Virgin Islands, a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office states.

A jury convicted Josephine Adams last year of assisting her husband in laundering $4 million in health care fraud proceeds, the news release states.

She could face up to 20 years in prison for obstructing an official investigation, 10 years for obstructing a judicial proceeding and five years for conspiracy, the news release states.

Barton Adams will forfeit $3.7 million as part of his plea agreement and will file tax returns for the 2004-2009 calendar years. He could face up to 15 years in prison and a $350,000 fine.

“Dr. Adams stole nearly $4 million from the American taxpayers and then schemed with his wife to hide the money in bank accounts around the world,” Ihlenfeld said in the news release. “He used the money that he stole to live a luxurious lifestyle, taking fancy trips and staying in high-end hotels, and he had plans to retire overseas until the whole scheme collapsed. I commend the IRS agents for all of the hard work that they have done, and continue to do, as the investigation is ongoing.”

CHARLESTON

Holiday traffic declines: Traffic on the West Virginia Turnpike was down about 1.5 percent during Thanksgiving week compared with a year earlier.

West Virginia Parkways Authority general manager Greg Barr says there were about 724,000 toll-booth transactions during a six-day period ending Sunday along the 88-mile highway between Charleston and Princeton. That’s down about 11,000 from the November 2011 period.

The record of 772,000 transactions was set in 2009. For the entire year, Barr said toll-booth transactions are up 1.7 percent compared with 2011.

‘Race to the Top’ lost: West Virginia school systems have been left out of the running for the U.S. Department of Education’s latest round of Race to the Top funding.

The department last week named 61 district applicants from across the country as finalists for nearly $400 million in federal grants.

By the end of the year as many as 25 winners will be awarded grants for programs to personalize learning, raise student achievement, improve teacher effectiveness, and ready students for college and careers.

Eight of the 372 original applications came from West Virginia.

West Virginia also lost out in 2010 when Race to the Top grants were awarded on a statewide basis.

Humanities grants: Through Feb. 1, the West Virginia Humanities Council is accepting applications for 2013 grants that offer support for research and writing projects.

The $2,500 fellowship grants are awarded once each year to humanities faculty at West Virginia colleges and universities, along with independent scholars. Guidelines and applications are available on the Council’s website, wvhumanities.org.

CLARKSBURG

Bath salts ban debated: Two north-central West Virginia cities are considering banning bath salts and other synthetic drugs within their borders.

The Clarksburg City Council approved the first reading of a proposed ordinance that would ban the substances. Shinnston City Council is drafting a similar ordinance and a first reading is set for Dec. 10.

Shinnston Mayor Sam DeMarco says city officials are trying to ensure the bath salt plague doesn’t devastate the area. He says his city’s proposed ordinance would give police a tool to combat synthetic drugs.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS

Gambling ‘event’ defined: Bus tour day trip patrons can still gamble at The Greenbrier’s casino under a revised state policy that clarifies who can access the facility.

The West Virginia Lottery Commission last week adopted a new definition of “event.”

The move addresses concerns that bus tour companies in Virginia were promoting day trips to The Greenbrier as casino trips, in violation of the state’s historic resort gaming law.

Under the law, only registered overnight guests or those attending conferences or similar events are permitted to gamble at the casino, if 400 or more rooms are booked.

The revised policy adds unique activities such as weddings and concerts to the definition of “events.” Other activities are allowed if they aren’t confined exclusively to the casino and meet other requirements.

TALCOTT

John Henry statue update: The next phase of the relocation of the statue of West Virginia’s famous steel-drivin’ man John Henry is underway.

The statue now is located at the mouth of the Great Bend Tunnel and a parking lot and entrance have been built. Next up: to create a park dedicated to the folk hero.

The steering committee for the John Henry Historical Park in Talcott is raising money to build an access road to run from the parking lot to the tunnel and the area where the John Henry Days festival is held.

According to officials with the West Virginia University Extension Service, the committee hopes to raise $300,000.

The committee plans to apply for a $240,000 grant through the West Virginia Department of Transportation. Another $60,000 will have to be raised to meet the grant’s 20 percent match.

BARBOURSVILLE

Guards’ ‘buddy system’: Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority executive director Joe DeLong says he’s concerned about what he describes as the “buddy system” among guards at the Western Regional Jail here.

DeLong voiced his concerns last week during an appearance before an interim legislative committee.

Fifteen correctional officers at the Barboursville jail are on suspension – some accused of using excessive force against inmates, others for allegedly sneaking contraband into the jail, others suspected of helping to cover up wrongdoing.

DeLong told lawmakers one solution would be to install surveillance cameras in the regional jails. But, he warned, that would require a significant monetary investment.

CROSS LANES

New buffet jobs: About 60 jobs will be created when the Mardis Gras Casino and Resort opens a grand buffet early next year.

The Kanawha County casino, which boasts a festive New Orleans carnival theme, held a daylong career fair from Tuesday to fill casino and food and beverage positions.

The casino is located just off Interstate 64, 14 miles west of Charleston. It already features live greyhound racing, table games, slot machines, off-track betting, several eateries and a 150-room luxury hotel.

PUTNAM COUNTY

Judge lands in court: A judge in Putnam County family court known for his screaming rants has apologized and agreed to pay nearly $18,000 in costs.

William Watkins appeared before the state Judicial Hearing Board last week on misconduct charges filed by the state Judicial Investigation Commission.

Watkins admitted to charges that he delayed rulings, failed to enter domestic violence orders into the state’s tracking system, and screamed and cursed at litigants.

Watkins and Judicial Counsel Rachael Fletcher Cipoletti agreed to proposed sanctions, including the costs of the investigation and court proceeding. A proposed 90-day suspension without pay would be stayed while he addresses deficiencies and undergoes counseling and judicial training.

The hearing board will formally make its recommendation to the state Supreme Court.

– Compiled by Christine Miller Ford

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